July 31, 1933 in Max, Nebraska, Verle Dean Brethower was born into the twin crises of the great depression and the dust bowl. His beloved wife of 64 years, Lorraine was born a little over a year later into the same circumstance nearby in NW Kansas. Their families’ stubborn refusal to “give up” at a time when most folks were leaving resulted in the marriage of high school sweethearts in August 1955.
Over the next six years, this union was blessed with four sons, 3 born in Kansas, the fourth born in Buffalo, MO. Likely as a product of the Dust Bowl, Dean was enamored with Southwest, MO. It was a land he had visited where water literally sprung from the earth. He moved his young family to Buffalo in 1961.
Shortly after high school graduation Dean served his country as a member of the USMC. Next came three years at Kansas University on the GI bill, selling Fuller Brush part time and summers to support a growing family. When a counselor recommended social dancing to fulfill the fine arts curriculum, the former Marine and young father figured he had enough education and it was time to get to work full time.
Dean was selling Fuller Brush in the Springfield, MO area when a client, Velma Bennett, mentioned her husband Lowell was looking for a good salesman to staff Beltone service centers in Missouri and Arkansas.
It was then Dean found his true passion, helping folks hear better. He had a gift for gab, AND for listening to folks until they could hear what he had to say.
His younger brother Dale relates “Dean could tease a grumpy old man until the man stopped grumping and started listening. He could explain things to clients in ways that made perfect sense to them. When it came to using expertise to help real people, Dean was the best.”
Dean could very effectively communicate the importance of hearing every word to improve social interactions. He had seen positive results too many times to doubt the importance of his mission. Failures to communicate just made him search ever deeper.
The History of Hearing Museum on East Commercial Street in Springfield is a testament to a lifetime of effort to communicate the importance of auditory stimulation as a means of improving the human condition using the best available technology.
After serving clients through Lowell and Beltone in the sixties, Dean started Midwest Hearing Aid Service in the seventies, seeking to provide the best hearing devices for each client’s needs regardless of brand. After more than fifty years of dedicated service, Dean retired from the profession in 2019 due to failing health.
Dean passed peacefully to the other side April 26, 2020 in the home he had made for his new family almost 60 years prior.
Dean was preceded in death by his parents, his older brother Leon, and sister-in-law Karolyn.
Dean is survived by his wife Lorraine, younger brother Dale, sister-in-law Shirley, four sons and their wives, Larry and Paula, Doug and Ann, Rodney and Dorcas, and Russell and Lori, ten grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Dean is sorely missed by his family, by the thousands he cared for while helping them hear better, and by folks he helped along the way on Commercial St in Springfield. MO where his business was located.
After raising four sons, Dean’s hobby became muzzle loader shooting. The high point in his passion for the sport was a world record in the 200 yard bench rest competition.
Found in his prized possessions was a license plate inscribed “God, Guns and Guts made America. Lets keep all three.”
Generosity was a fourth G that Dean kept mostly hidden. His generosity, applied to those who needed it most, was observed only by a few who knew him well.
May Dean rest in peace, following a life well lived in service to bettering the human condition with his unique talents.