Funeral services for Will Brandli will be held Saturday, March 7 at 11 a.m. at Woodland Bible Church in Warroad. Visitation will be Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., with a 7 p.m. prayer service at the Warroad Senior Living Center Chapel; and one hour prior to the service at the church. There will be military honors by the Warroad American Legion & V.F.W. immediately following the funeral; followed by a lunch/reception from noon - 1:30 p.m., then procession to America Cemetery south of Warroad at 1:30 p.m.
Will Elmer Brandli, age 90, of Warroad, MN died peacefully on February 29, 2020, in his bed at the Warroad Senior Living Center. Will was born on September 30, 1929, in Warroad, MN. He grew up on the Brandli farm homestead south of Warroad, along with his three brothers and six sisters. He attended the Lee Lewis country school through 8th grade, which was just ¼ mile from the home farm so Will would run to school and back every day. He even ran home for lunch and then ran back to school in time to play ball before afternoon classes. He was so proud of that fact! Will then attended the Crookston Ag High School because he could complete four years of high school in only three years’ time.
After graduating from high school, Will worked on the family farm and eventually bought the home farm from his dad in 1949. With a draft soon coming, Will enlisted and joined the United States Air Force on January 2, 1951. After his training, he served as a flight engineer on a C46 transport during the Korean War. He was discharged October 1, 1954, and returned home to his farm. Will farmed in the spring, summer, and fall and spent several winters working in Coos Bay, Oregon, in the saw mills while living with one of his older sisters. It was there that he met Miss Fran Hussey who was teaching Phy. Ed. and health at the local high school. Will and Fran were married October 26, 1958, in Grants Pass, Oregon. They then moved to his farm south of Warroad, MN.
Will's farm was a small grains crop farm and he now added livestock. He had hogs and sheep for just a few years, then he raised and ran a 100 head cow-calf beef operation along with the small grains crops. Will and Fran had two children; Bret in 1962 and Jan in 1964. Will was very active in the Roseau County 4-H program, both at the club and county levels, working right alongside his horse-crazy wife!
Will also served 15 years on the Roseau County Fair Board in the 80’s and 90’s. He was also involved in church, where he taught Sunday School for a few years and even had his own daughter Jan, in his class. Other organizations Will was involved in were the MN Cattlemen’s Association and MN Farmers’ Union. Will received several awards related to his farming and 4-H work. Will and Fran were recognized as the Roseau County Farm Family of the Year in 1991, as a three-generation MN 4-H family in 2002, and as a MN Century Farm in 2017. As of today, the Brandli homestead farm has been in the family for 114 years. Will retired from farming in 2004 and then rented the land out to local area farmers. He so enjoyed being less busy in his retirement years, spending his time with his kids and grandkids and attending all their activities and events. He also enjoyed puttering around the yard and in his shop. Lawn mowing was his favorite exercise activity! After 88 years of living in the same house, though remodeled a few times, Will moved into the Warroad Senior Living Center in February of 2018. He lived there for two years, where he came to be loved by many of the staff there.
Besides farming, Will dearly loved being a Warroad school bus driver. He drove school bus for 33 years, from 1963-1996. Oh, the stories he could tell about all the years of driving kids to and from school and to many extra-curricular activities. He saw many changes in education, discipline, and management during those years. But at the real heart of it was his undying love for the kids from kindergarteners to high school seniors. He truly tried to be a positive influence in their lives and would help them in any way he could. His heart was extra huge with so much love for all of his “kids”. Will also loved to deer hunt, especially in his later years, being able to hunt with his son, Bret.
The love of Will’s life was many people. It all started with finding and loving Fran, his wife, then dearly loving his two children, Bret and Jan, their two spouses, Shelli and Marc, and then his seven grandkids. And arriving late in his life were his six great-grandkids. Will just loved being a father and loved any time he could be with his kids, grandkids and great-grandkids, and also attending their many activities and events for as long as he was able.
Will was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Fran; four brothers, Charlie Brandli, Edward Brandli, Roy Brandli, and Ernest Brandli; four sisters, Mary Kriesel, Ann Harris, Mabel Baggett, and Clara Mulert.
He is survived by his children Bret (Shelli) Brandli of Rockerville, SD and Jan (Marc) Stevens of Montevideo, MN; seven grandchildren, Kristin (Tony) Printon, Jessica (Derek) Joyal, Kodi (Hayley) Nelson, Ian Nelson, Megan (Phillip) Horsager, Darin (Kate) Stevens and Rachel (Ben) Lyon; eight great-grandchildren, Tyler Printon, Printon baby, James Joyal, Ava Paskett, Riley Nelson, Tucker Erickson, Kya Erickson and Charlie Stevens; two sisters, Kathryn Olson of Soldotna, AK and Evelyn Berry of Warroad, MN; and a great number of nieces and nephews from his nine siblings.
Will was a kind and gentle man with a huge heart, a quick smile, and a ready and helping hand for others. He loved to visit, dance, sing and tease people, especially kids. Will was a Christian believer who showed his faith more in deeds and actions than in words. He will be so deeply missed and always loved by all of his family, friends, and all who knew him.
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