Brad was born in Red Lodge on November 24, 1963 to Roger and Carol Orcutt King and moved as a youngster with his older sister and parents to Augusta where he would spend his formative years and always call home.
Brad’s wit, sense of humor, love for competition, and sense of service to others took root at an early age as Brad worked the family ranch outside of Gilman and excelled in school, athletics, and FFA. Brad graduated valedictorian from Augusta High School in 1982, the last year that AHS served students from Lincoln, across the Continental Divide. Following graduation, Brad served a year as the 1st Vice President of the Montana FFA Association. He was also named the Star State Farmer of the Montana FFA in 1982.
Brad earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and teaching credential in agriculture education from Montana State University and was set for a professional career in forming young minds, developing student leaders, and growing the next generation of agriculturalists as an ag education teacher and FFA advisor.
Brad was hired as the high school ag ed teacher in Stevensville in the fall of 1986. He was charged with revitalizing a program that needed the vim and vigor that only a blonde, curly-haired ranch kid from the Rocky Mountain Front could offer. Brad quickly integrated into the Stevensville community and the Bitterroot Valley. From developing relationships with local ranchers and business owners, to engaging and helping with civic events like Creamery Picnic, Western Heritage Days, and an epic student-run Halloween haunted house, Brad was an important part of the Stevensville community.
At school, Brad was a larger-than-life fixture to his students. No one infused humor in daily lessons better than Brad and no one could tell a just-barely-school-appropriate joke like Mr. King. Brad lived the FFA motto of “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, and Living to Serve.” Brad immersed this in his day-to-day teaching, producing around 40 State FFA Degree recipients, a couple dozen American FFA Degree recipients and five state FFA officers. One of Brad’s biggest living legacies is the seven former students who went on to become ag education teachers.
Brad’s athleticism as a youth, coupled with his innate talent as a teacher, resulted in his success as a coach on the gridiron, too. Brad thoroughly enjoyed coaching junior high and JV football and developing young men and young minds for the next level of competition.
Brad was an early adopter of technology and understood personal computers ahead of most educators. Brad took it upon himself to string high-speed internet wires at Stevensville High School long before schools could affordably hire technicians to do this sort of work. Numerous teaching peers counted on Brad to solve their RAM vs ROM problems, fix what ever had gone wrong with their DOS operating system, and get their dot matrix printer back online. He was the school’s IT person before the position existed.
In 1998, Brad was accepted in to the doctoral program in agricultural education at the University of Missouri-Columbia. While at Mizzou, Brad taught undergrad courses, mentored future ag education teachers, and conducted research in learning styles and the prediction of academic success. Brad earned his Ph.D. in 2003 and later moved to Minnesota where he was a professor in the Department of Work and Human Resources Education at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
While in Minnesota, Brad married Tracy Ann Lapel on October 15, 2004 in Shakopee, MN. Brad and Tracy were blessed with their adopted son, Gabriel Michael, on January 20, 2006. Brad’s eyes were always full of life, but they really shined brightly when he was asked about Gabriel. Brad was so proud of Gabriel, his accomplishments in school, scouts, church, and the young man he’s becoming.
The call of Montana proved to be too great and in October of 2006, Brad, Tracy, and Gabriel left Minnesota when Brad was named the ag education specialist for the state at the Office of Public Instruction in Helena. Brad quickly acclimated to state administrative work, always finding a way to minimize red tape, help new ag education teachers, and guide state funds to worthy and productive projects. Brad led Montana to first-in-the-nation status in adopting rigorous quality program standards for ag education and he formalized a new teacher mentoring program that was quickly replicated in other states.
Brad retired from OPI in 2016 and navigated life with a smile, positivity towards a new day, and a love for all things MSU. Brad was bestowed with the Honorary American FFA Degree in 2016. He was a state officer of the Montana Association of Agricultural Educators in the 1990s and was awarded their lifetime achievement award in 2017.
Brad’s impact on his students at Stevensville High School can’t be understated and the positive work he did in mentoring and developing future teachers in Missouri and Minnesota has ripples that are still being felt today. Brad’s decade of leadership in ag education at OPI set countless teachers up for career success and provided a foundation in policy and programming that will benefit Montana schools and students for years to come.
Brad is survived by his wife Tracy and son Gabriel of Helena, sister Tari (Mike) Mord of Havre, niece Jillian (Donnie Walker) Mord, nephew Troy Mord, and grand-niece Claire Walker. He is also survived by numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins. Brad was preceded in death by his parents Roger in 2014 and Carol in 1997, his grandparents, EH (1994) and Lucile (1997) Orcutt and Verner (1984) and Polly (2003) King, and an uncle, James Orcutt of Conrad.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be directed in Brad’s name either to the Montana State FFA Foundation, 502 S. 19th Ave., Ste 113, Bozeman MT 59718 or Gabriel’s College Fund at P.O. Box 1271, Havre MT 59501, make checks payable to Tari Mord and in the memo line write “Gabriel’s College Fund”.
A memorial celebration of his life will be held at a later time. To offer condolences or to share a story about Brad please visit www.helenafunerals.com.