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The legacy of Bret Hutchings, a community treasure

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Hutchings is a name that is synonymous with Lehi's history, commerce and public service. With the passing of Bret Hutchings, Lehi has lost an irreplaceable member of our community.

Bret was the grandson of John Hutchings, the inveterate collector of artifacts, whose collection is housed in the Hutchings Museum. Bret's mother and father, Harold and Marie Hutchings, bought W. D. Watkins' (Wattie) Lone Eagle Trading Post in 1953 and changed the name to Hutch's Lone Eagle Trading Post. Harold, an avid sportsman, added sporting goods, gunsmithing and small appliances to the business.

In 1980, Bret assumed management of the business and greatly expanded the appliance and furniture inventory. Bret and Janys built a new store on Main Street and grew the local company even more. They joined a large nationwide group of appliance and furniture dealers, BrandSource. A fellow appliance dealer, Todd Hall, reflected on his relationship with Hutchings over the years.

“While Bret did well in his community with his family business, his passion was serving his country and community in other ways. He served in the Utah National Guard, retiring as a major, assisted his city's fire department, and volunteered for many duties as an active member of his church.

While most of us remember Bret as a big red-haired guy with cool belt buckles, many stories remind us of what a fun, caring and kind man he was. For example, he's the only person I know who proposed to his future wife from a jail cell.

As the story goes, he'd been close to the local police department as a firefighter, and for the big day, he arranged to be pulled over while on a date with his intended, Janys. After some award-winning acting by Bret and the police officer, the couple was taken into custody. As the officers uncuffed him and pushed them into a jail cell, Bret's buddies slipped the engagement ring into his pocket. Janys said, “yes.” The entire police department cheered them, and the couple was released and finished their date.

When Bret was building his new store, he insisted that there be a place to display all the memorabilia he collected on his trips to Disneyland. He loved anything Disney.

Bret fought a two-year battle with cancer. He lost his voice and most of his body weight but never lost his courage or our love. He was at peace with his diagnosis and really only worried about those he'd leave behind. He loved his fellow BrandSource members, and we'd continue to include him via text or video when he became too ill to attend the group's meetings. He ended every exchange by telling us how much he loved us.”

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Jim Restow, CEO of AVB BrandSource, concurred, “Bret showed entrepreneurial drive in his own business and cared about his fellow BrandSource members,” he said. “This combination—excelling on one's own while giving back to others—is so rare and will be greatly missed.”

Hall added, “I will remember Bret as my first friend at BrandSource and my best friend among dealers. But I also know that Bret was a best friend to many of us, and I am grateful for this big man with a heart big enough for all of us. Bret led a life that mattered and will live on as the better light in us all.”

Always the consummate volunteer, Hutchings will be missed by Lehi's firefighting community, neighbors, local shoppers, and fellow BrandSource dealers. But he will be missed most by his beloved wife, Janys, his children, grandchildren and extended family.

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