By LaVonne Limpus-Jurack
Lewistown lost a long-time resident, business owner, and all around “Mountain Man” in late April when Frank Hanzel, 90, passed away.
Hanzel is well known for his gallery, Montana Mountain Man Antler Art, on the east end of Main Street. The shop, stacked floor to ceiling with items such as beads and hand carved antler art, also features high-end artwork from well-known artists and beautiful Yogo sapphires.
Frank’s children have yet to determine the future of the store, but they say, with confidence, their father’s legacy will live on.
Originally from New Jersey and an electrician by trade, Frank and his wife decided to raise their family in Lewistown. In the 1970s they opened Q’s, described as a “Happy Days” style hangout. Eventually, they brought in New York-style pizza, and the business evolved into Hanzel Haus. The Hanzels owned Ullrs, a clothing store, as well as Town and Country Electric before Frank settled in the gallery.
Hanzel came up with the idea to install a ski run in the old mining town of Kendall. Tom Moe Jr. remembers, “He, my dad [Tom Moe Sr.] and their friends installed a rope tow that was run by gas engine. It ran on the weekends and was about fifty cents per run. It was all volunteer-based.”
Families and kids were often the recipients of his hospitality and generosity. His daughter, Diane, describes his annual Hootenanny; “A band would play from atop the roof of his business to his guests on the street below.” And, without fail, he provided a Yogo Sapphire to the Festival of Trees fundraiser for the local Boys and Girls Club each year.
Next to Mountain Man Gallery is the Veteran Memorial Park. A visit with Don Bost, Commander of American Legion Post 16, indicated that Frank designed the park and was integral in the success of the $300,000 project. Bost says, “Frank was extremely creative. This would not be what it is without him.” A WWII veteran, Hanzel honored soldiers of the past, and those to come, with life-sized bronze statues and momentous flags in the design of the park.
Snowy Mountain Muzzleloaders, a group of folks dedicated to celebrating the lifestyle of the mid-1800s mountain man way of life, will also be missing their friend. A longtime member, Hanzel enjoyed dressing in period clothing and the 1800s-style of shooting sports.
It is clear this man made a lasting impact on his small Central Montana community over many decades. Generations of community members have come forward to remember
him and his “go out and make it