Havre Daily News
When Mike Evans thinks of Dwayne Kretchmer, the first thing that pops in his head - kindness.
“He cared about others and he'd do anything for you,” Evans said. “If you were in need, he'd step up to the plate and do whatever he could.”
Kretchmer, 81, died March 3 of natural causes. A funeral service will be 11 a.m. Friday at the St. Jude Catholic Church.
Evans said one of his fondest memories of Kretchmer was the way “Kretch” was there for his younger brother after Evans had moved out of his family's home.
“Every birthday, he gave my brother a card with money in it. That continued after my dad's death. Dwayne was still there with his birthday card,” he said.
Evans met Kretchmer through his father, Dave Evans, who owned Valley Furniture with Kretch. Mike Evans now owns the business, along with his sister, Cathy Brown, and Kretchmer's son Matt.
Not only is the large neon “V” on the sign the same as when Kretchmer owned the store, but the store's community spirit also remains the same, Evans said. He proudly displays pictures representing the various local efforts the store supports. Some pictures date back to the 1960s. Pictures of 4-H livestock the store purchased hang alongside a framed newspaper clip about Kretchmer's walk-a-thon for the Bigger Better Barn.
“This is something Kretch and Dave started and we just continue,” Evans said while showing off the photos in the breakroom.
In 1954, Valley Furniture donated a cedar chest to the 4-H queen, a tradition continued to this day. A thank-you letter from one of the queens is part of the display showing the store's local efforts.
“Dwayne really got that going. The fair and 4-H was a big thing for Kretch,” Evans said.
Kretchmer raised thousands of dollars to construct the Bigger Better Barn by doing a walk-a-thon in 1984. He marched across Hill County on U.S. Highway 2 from the Liberty County line to the Blaine County line.
Evans said Kretchmer walked most of the length alone, but his wife Lilly drove along and “probably walked a little bit, too.”
He also has fond memories of hunting and fishing with Kretchmer.
“He was a very good shot,” Evans said. “I think he just liked to get outdoors.”
He said Kretchmer liked to hunt pheasants, deer and elk.
Kretchmer was a long-time member of the Havre Elk Lodge.
Bob Nieuwenhuyse, two-time past exolted ruler of the Havre Elks Lodge, met Kretchmer through the organization.
“Even with all of Kretch's many activities, he was exceptionally dedicated to the Elks,” Nieuwenhuyse said. “He inspired a lot of the younger Elks to live every day in the service to their fellow man.”
“He was a true and gentle man,” he added.