Bret William Kolacny


(July 17, 1961 - Sept. 18, 2011)

Bret William Kolacny died Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011 at his home in Clark. He was 50.

Bret was born in Dillon, Mont., July 17, 1961, the first child of Beverly Ann (Jones) and William Leroy Kolacny. He joined three siblings from Beverly’s previous marriage; Terry, Jim and Ellen. Brother Bart joined the family two years later. Bret and Bart were names inspired by the popular Maverick Brothers TV show during that time. A few years later, sister JoAnn was born to make it a family of eight.

Bret lived on a large cattle ranch in the Big Hole country of southwestern Montana for the first year of his life. When he was 2, his parents moved to the 47 Ranch near Dell, Mont., which was owned by his maternal grandparents, Willis and Erna Jones. Bret and his brothers and sisters learned how to raise livestock, hunt and fish, and appreciate the rugged beauty of the high altitude country.

The family moved to Wyoming’s Big Horn Basin in 1965 where they lived on the Willwood, northeast of Powell, and on Heart Mountain before settling on a small farm a few miles west of Powell. He attended schools in Powell, including Westside Elementary and graduated from Powell High School in 1979.

Bret was an avid hunter and helped to stock the family freezers with deer and elk meat. During one of those hunting trips in the mountains near Meeteetse, the truck Bret was riding in slipped on a steep roadway and plunged to the bottom, causing injuries that resulted in permanent paralysis of Bret’s lower body. His life was instantly changed and he underwent numerous surgeries over the years to deal with complications related to his injuries. But through it all, Bret remained sure of himself, even as other people sometimes treated him differently because of his disability. He once remarked, “I’m the same guy — I’m just sitting down instead of standing up.” His courage and character were displayed everywhere and he possessed a great ability to bounce back from many setbacks. After each setback, Bret would be back up in his chair or in his truck cruising the back country near his home north of Clark.

Bret was an excellent cook and he became broadly knowledgeable about human health. He volunteered over the years in the community helping emergency responders in the Clark Fire Department at one time. He loved the land and its wild animals and worked with the Bureau of Land Management as a keen observer to help curb illegal activity on public lands.

He survived and thrived for more than 30 years despite his paralysis and he continued to contribute to and enrich his family and friends with his salty opinion, dry humor and underlying big-hearted ways.

Bret is survived by his parents, Beverly and Bill Kolacny; five siblings and their spouses: Terril (Yvette) Shorb, James (Wanda) Shorb, Ellen (Steve) Bales, Bart (Loydrena) Kolacny and JoAnn (Jerry) Denney; 13 nieces and nephews, four grandnieces and nephews, and many cousins, good friends and neighbors.

A family service is planned to place Bret’s remains in the high country prairie land near the family home he loved so deeply.

Ballard Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.