Hubert C. “Sonny” Brabender

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MIDDLETON–Hubert C. “Sonny” Brabender, 84, of Madison, passed away on April 16, 2021, at University Hospital, Madison, after a massive stroke suffered on March 29. He was born May 16, 1936, in Madison, the son of Hubert P. and Rosalia (Friedl) Brabender.

Hubert, better known as Herb, spent the first five years of his life in Madison with his parents, until moving to the family farm in Ashton in 1941. He graduated from Ashton St. Peter’s Catholic elementary school, and then graduated from Middleton High School in 1955 after lettering in baseball, basketball, football, and track. Herb was a member of the 1954 Middleton High School basketball team that went to the state tournament. School Principal Meyer often chided him, “If only you would work as hard on your academics.” During the summers Herb starred on the Ashton Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) baseball team and hung out with his buddies, Joel Larson, Kenny Bram, Jim Shaksted and others, creating havoc and having fun.

After high school graduation, he served in the US Air Force for eight years and was a proud member of VFW Post No. 8483, Madison. During his years in the service, he spent time in Guam and was on duty during the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956. He claims he was shot at then­–we’re not sure, but it made a good story. He did cheat death once as a youngster when runaway horses gave him a wild ride on a farm wagon. He was saved when its front wheel hit a rock and threw him to safety, just before the tongue of the wagon impaled itself into the side of the chicken coop. We know this story was true because there were witnesses.

He was also a proud teamster, with trucking routes throughout Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin during his working years. Herb loved woodworking, playing cards, fishing, and spending time at the Brabender family farm. You can still find his initials penned on the granary walls and etched in concrete next to the barn.

Herb is survived by his sisters, Joyce A. (Joseph) Mulhern, Madison, and Debra R. Tracy, Middleton; brothers, Earyl A. (Angie) Brabender, Madison, Wayne W. (Kirsten) Brabender, Middleton, and Jerry B. (Susie) Brabender, Oregon; sons, Michael Lee Brabender, Little Rock, AR, and Herbie Brabender, Guthrie, OK; daughters, Tracye (Tony) Wickliffe, Little Rock, and Amber Brabender of Edmond, OK; stepdaughters, Cynthia, Tammie, and Teresa; five grandchildren, Teresa, Jacob, Jarod, Irish, and Jordan; 13 nephews and nieces, and too many cousins and friends to count. 

He was preceded in death by his parents; first wife, Bobbeye Dean; second wife, Betty Ann Curlee; special friend, Patricia J. Danielson; brother-in-law, Jeffrey L. Tracy; and stepson, Billy Charles Martindale.

A heartfelt thanks to the UW Hospital ICU and other staff for their compassionate care and concern during Herb’s trying final days. He could not have been in better hands.

Because of COVID-19 concerns, a private family burial will be held May 1, 2021, at St. Peter’s Catholic Cemetery, Ashton, just a half mile from the family farm. A memorial service for Herb is planned for this summer.

Memorials may be gifted in Herb’s name to Agrace Hospice Care, Madison, agrace.org, or UW Carbone Cancer Center, cancer.wisc.edu. Online condolences may be made at gundersonfh.com.

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