Friends and family recall Lop Behrman’s dedication to work, family
February 18, 2010
Worn cowboy boots clunked on the wood floor, just visible from under countless pairs of work jeans.
Cowboy hats bobbed through the crowd, and four kegs of beer were on hand to quench the thirst of more than 100 guests.
The scene Wednesday afternoon at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion would have made longtime Craig resident Veldon Behrman — better known since childhood as "Lop" — flash one of his signature smiles, showing teeth that matched his white hair and stood out against his face, tanned from countless days working under the sun.
But Lop was only there in spirit, his smiling face plastered on a projector screen in a slideshow documenting his life, which sadly came to an end last week.
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"He would have loved it," said Lop's daughter, Julie Haskins, about the celebration of her father's life. "He would have skipped the rest of the service and just come to this part."
Behrman died Feb. 11 at The Memorial Hospital in Craig after a brief illness. A memorial service took place Wednesday morning at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, followed by interment at the Craig Cemetery.
Friends and family were then invited to the Pavilion for lunch, live music and memories.
The 70-year-old developer, contractor, racehorse owner and family man was working on a new office building on First Street when he fell ill, but his family members said he died as he lived — "a working man."
Lop's two sons, Butch and Russ Behrman, said their father passed his strong work ethic and love of manual labor on to the rest of his family.
Growing up on a ranch in Sunbeam, Butch and Russ were on wheelbarrow duty as soon as they could lift the handles, they said.
"I always had a job since I can remember," Russ said. "But whatever you did, he was doing it, too, right alongside you.
"He never taught us how to quit."
Lop's children said he had a habit of skipping lunch on a job site and telling his workers they could only remove one work glove to gobble down their sandwiches.
"At least we got turkey sandwiches on Thanksgiving," Butch said.
But putting his sons to work was only the foundation of Lop's company, Behrman Construction.
His grandsons now work for the family business and were by his side his last day on the job.
Layne Behrman said his grandfather taught him just about everything he knows about work, love and family.
"He taught me how to work hard and how to treat people," Layne said. "What a good person. His heart was always in the right place."
Lop's dedication to waking up every morning and putting in a hard day's work inspired Layne, his cousin, Jesse Haskins, and his uncle, Darwin Haskins, to perform "Workin' Man Blues" by Merle Haggard at Lop's memorial service reception.
"I'll be working long as my two hands are fit to use," Darwin crooned. "I'll drink my beer in a tavern, sing a little bit of these workin' man blues."
But Lop's legacy touched more than just his family.
With the sheer number of buildings, houses and office spaces Lop built across Craig, Julie said it's hard to drive through town without seeing the product of his sweat and tears.
"I think every time people drive down a street in Craig, they'll remember what a difference he made," she said. "He has touched a lot of people in this community."
One of those people was the man who married his sister, Sharon.
Darryl Steele said he learned a lot from his brother-in-law, business partner and friend. He learned the most from their various business ventures together, including a nickel-saver newspaper, a subdivision in Lay and their foray into horse racing.
Steele recalled learning one particular life lesson from Lop after a day of racing. Their horses had been successful that day, and the two men sat together drinking beers.
Steele complained his beer had gotten warm, and Lop promptly picked up the can and threw it in the trash.
"When you're on a losing streak, you have to drink all the beer even though it's warm," Steele recalled Lop saying to him that day. "When you're on a winning streak, you can stand to throw it away.
"Because winners only drink cold beer."
Many other memories, humorous stories and heartfelt goodbyes were shared throughout the service and the reception, including those from the day he died.
"It gave us comfort that he didn't suffer," Julie said. "He was at the job site working where he was surrounded by his kids and grandkids."
She recalled a moment at the hospital right after Lop's death, when the family was looking at one another and wondering what they should do next.
Julie's son, Josey, who was working on the office building with his grandfather that day, spoke up.
"Well, I guess we should go back to work," Josey said.