Frank Hanzel

Frank Hanzel -- rare and hard to find another like this…

Frank Hanzel would wake up before the crack of dawn and head to one of his workspaces at Mountain Men Gallery. He loved to work in solitude for a few hours creating his artwork -- maybe an antler carving or maybe beadwork or a Native American inspired heritage piece. Then he would put on the coffee and open the doors for friends to stop by for a cup and a chat. One wall was lined with coffee cups, most with antler tags bearing the names of his fellow coffee drinkers. And if you were a stranger who passed muster after getting sized up, you might share a cup and a talk, too. Many will always treasure those morning chats over coffee in the gallery.

Adolph Francis Hanzel, 90, was born in New Jersey on June 20, 1927, but after bringing his family to Lewistown, Montana in the 1960s, he has been a bonafide Montana mountain man. The heart inside his barrel-chest, often under a fringed suede vest or wool coat, beat passionately for Montana lore and landscape.

He left this world at home on April 27, 2018, after wrestling cancer for years. Frank left a network of friends and family all over the world, young or seasoned, and a legacy uniquely his own.

Yes, Frank was an artisan who could create one-of-a-kind art out of antlers, Yogo sapphires, leather, and beads– a knife handle, a chandelier, a necklace. Sometimes the piece told its own story. If you were lucky, Frank would tell you its story, maybe based in Montana lore or on another of his creations. He could be funny or cranky, an attentive listener or a jovial trickster. A rascal for sure! He would always tell you how he saw things.

He was a Navy veteran, and a big supporter of veterans throughout his life. There was no doubt such service to country was always on top of his mind. His Montana Mountain Men Gallery is located along Lewistown’s Veterans Memorial Park.

His family remembers him as always creative and not just in the studio. He might be sitting in a coffee shop talking and end up drawing house plans on a napkin for someone. Frank collected people and things. He loved yard sales and would buy stuff he didn’t even need because he knew someone else would. He saw potential in everything. He always seemed to have whatever people needed–information, a random item, a hand-carved friendship necklace or that cup of coffee with an ear or a story.

His people collection included his beloved Snowy Mountain Muzzleloaders, a Lewistown-based club that aims to carry on the lifestyle and traditions of the mountain men and women of the fur trading era. They rendezvous every year. He loved those gatherings.

He also loved gathering with friends and kindred spirits at his Sacred Grounds in Lewistown.

He loved his family and they loved him. Frank is survived by his daughters, Deborah Hanzel, Sandi Hanzel, Diane Hanzel, Kristi Knerr (her husband Jerry) and son Brad Hanzel. He is also survived by five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

His Legacy lives on…

A celebration of Frank’s life will be June 20, 2018 in Lewistown, details to follow.

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