Charles Junior "Speck" Helmbrecht was born June 1, 1928 in a little white house in Berlin, North Dakota to Carl & Kathryn (Nelson) Helmbrecht, joining two brothers and two sisters. The family moved to Mott, North Dakota in 1930, where Speck attended first grade in 1934. In 1935, the family moved to Scobey, MT where he graduated from high school in 1946. Immediately after graduation, he joined the army, spending a year in Japan in the Army of Occupation. After an excellent background in music in the Scobey schools, he played in the 21" Infantry Regimental Band while in Japan. Music was always an important part of Speck's life and he sang in church and community choirs his entire life.
After returning from the army, Speck attended Northern Montana College. He returned to Scobey to work for his dad at the Marquis Milling Company. During that time, he met and fell in love with Dee Ash, a teacher from North Dakota. They were married at Underwood, ND on June 10, 1952.
In 1954 Speck and Dee moved to Helena, where Dee continued teaching while Speck attended the Helena Aeronautics School, learning aviation mechanics and learning to fly in a 1946 Piper P.A. 12 that he purchased for $1,100. He obtained his pilot's license. On February 8, 1956 he and his passenger, Leo Zimmer, were involved in a mid-air collision with a Cessna 172 at 2,000 feet above the ground near Hauser Lake in the Helena Valley. He piloted his very severely damaged Piper airplane safely to the ground, receiving minor injuries. Three men were killed in the other airplane which lost its right wing in the collision. Speck received his commercial pilot's license in 1957 and started his aerial spraying career for Morrison Flying Services of Helena, running an operation in the Scobey area. Daughter, Shelley, was born in 1958 in Helena.
In 1959 Speck and Dee moved to Chester where Dee continued to teach and Speck started Chester Aviation Service with a Piper PA 18 Super Cub. In 1964 he and Buster Ness formed Ag Air Inc. Son, John was born in Chester in 1965. In 1969 Speck sold his interest to Buster and continued to work with him for 30 years, then went to work for Joel Fenger at Frontier Aviation. In all, Speck flew crop dusting airplanes for 46 seasons, working mainly in northern Montana, but also in Nebraska, Mississippi, Colorado, Idaho and Washington.
In 1970 Speck and Dee moved with their children to Havre where Dee continued her education and her teaching career. Speck continued flying out of Chester and obtained his real estate broker's license, working for Witt and Loranger Realty. He then trained as a real estate appraiser with Dave Anderson, beginning in 1986 and worked with Dave for 10 years.
Speck and Dee moved to Hingham in 1995 where Shelley and husband, Barry Shelden, lived with their children, Haylie, Dustin and Nicholas. Son, John, and wife, Michelle (Cartwright ,) along with daughter, Sarah, bought the Gildford Mercantile, a country grocery store, in 1996. John and Michelle’s son, Matthew, was born in 1997. Speck and Dee moved to be closer to their grandkids in school activities. Speck started Helmbrecht Appraising in 1995. He trained both Shelley and John in real estate appraising. They now run Helmbrecht Appraising after Speck's retirement in 2007.
Speck was a member of the VFW, American Legion, and Masons in Chester and the Havre Elk’s Lodge.
Speck was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Vernon “Toby” and Kenneth; sisters, Florence (Wayde) Johnson, Grace (in infancy) and Mildred (Jim) Hillstrom; and son-in-law, Barry Sheldon.
He is survived by his wife, Dee; son, John (Michelle); daughter, Shelley Shelden; 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandsons.
Services will be at later date.
Memorials can be made to to Hi-Line Health Foundation.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Charles J. "Speck" Helmbrecht, please visit our floral store.
Hi-Line Health Foundation
PO Box 705, Chester MT 59522