Eldon James Brandt was born to William P. and Lillian (Bartel) Brandt on Aug. 28, 1928, in Goessel, Kan. His mother passed away when Eldon was very little and his father remarried Anna Ewert, who helped raise him. Eldon grew up in rural Hillsboro, Kan., farming with his father, attended school there, and graduated from Hillsboro High school in 1947.
Following graduation, Eldon became a part of Voluntary Service through Mennonite Central Committee, and worked in Chaco, Paraguay, at an experiment farm in the Mennonite colonies. Eldon was placed among the Paraguayan people to develop land where they could plant wheat. He also helped put together parts to make plows and windmills for their use. There he met his wife, Anny Neufeld, a local girl, who was working at the farm. They married in Paraguay, Jan. 29, 1955, and in April that year, he brought his bride back to the United States and made their home near Newton, Kan. Later, they moved to Hillsboro, where they raised three sons.
In 1964, he quit farming, and began work at the Barkman Honey Company and developed his interests in honeybees and beekeeping. He served on the city council, coached Babe Ruth baseball, and served in numerous volunteer positions in his church, Tabor Mennonite, near Goessel. In 1982, he purchased a bee operation near Yankton, S.D., and made a courageous move north to work the bees, bringing in his son, Merle, to work with him. While living in South Dakota, Eldon was active in the South Salem Mennonite Church in rural Freeman, S.D.
He spent many hours with his grandchildren, who gave him great joy and he loved taking trips, especially to visit Anny’s family in Canada each summer.
He kept bees until November 2001, when he suffered a stroke. Eldon passed away Oct. 27, 2012, in the Good Samaritan Center in Centerville, S.D.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Anny; son Bruce (wife Melody) of Littleton, Colo., son Merle (wife Gena) of Yankton, S.D., and son Sidney (wife Mary) of Tabor, S.D., as well as four sisters, Orletta Wiebe, Pearl (John) McConnell, Darlene (Lewis) Haney, Joyce Barkman, and two brothers, Raymond (Rosie), and John (Donita). He leaves behind seven grandchildren: Jason, Garrett, Lance, Gavin, Garner, Wesley, and Ava, as well as a host of nieces, nephews, and countless friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Lillian, stepmother Anna, and a 6-month old brother, Franklin.
Memorial monies can be sent in care of Eldon’s son, Merle Brandt at 2605 Deer Blvd., Yankton, SD 57078.