Brett Allen Isbell passed away on Thursday, October 22, at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah. He died due to lung cancer, peacefully, with his wife Chris and son Josh at his side. Brett was 60 years old, born in Dallas on November 30, 1959, the fourth child of James Frank and Jeanne Crawford Isbell. He grew up in Midland, Texas, where he married Chris Payne in 1981. They were 3 months shy of celebrating their 40th anniversary. Through the years, Brett and Chris lived in Dallas, San Angelo, Oklahoma City, Rockwall, Midland, then settling in Tucson for 13 years, before finally moving to Salt Lake City in 2001. They had two children, son Joshua Abe and daughter Allison.

Brett was a devoted husband, proud father, and a jack of all trades. He was a fire fighter with the Midland Fire Department, a Boy Scout leader, and a track coach in Tucson. While in Tucson, he developed a unique art style using welded copper wire to depict southwestern wildlife and culture. Brett created elaborate three-dimensional free-standing sculptures and custom wall installations, even winning awards in regional art shows. After relocating to Salt Lake City, he co-founded The People’s Market, an outdoor farmer’s market where he and Chris offered their homegrown vegetables on a “pay what you can, take what you need” basis.

Brett was an avid outdoorsman throughout his life, enjoying canoeing, hiking, backpacking, and camping. Then listen to the Wild, it's calling you. -Robert Service He loved to be outside, and he was happiest when he was somewhere on a trail in the wilderness.

He is survived by his wife Chris; son Joshua, daughter-in-law Kira, and two granddaughters, Beatrix and Valentine; his sisters, Amy Isbell Hanschen and her husband Steve, and Karen Isbell Marszycki and her husband Roy; and several nieces and nephews.

Brett was preceded in death by his daughter Allison, his parents, and his brother, John Reese Isbell.

Brett requested that the family have a private service due to the ongoing coronavirus. Memorial markers will be placed both at his parents’ gravesite in Rockwall, and Allison’s gravesite in Midland, Texas. We invite you to pay your respects by making a contribution to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, volunteering with your local community garden, or getting outdoors and taking a hike.

Life Story Info


Chris and Josh Isbell

Post Date

Nov 02, 2020


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NEXT Tammy LaNay Fullmer Tammy LaNay Fullmer


I am deeply saddened by the loss of Brett Isbell, and offer my condolences to his family. I went to Midland High School with Brett for a couple of years, and befriended him, as well as his brother John. We all "hung out" in the same circle of friends back then. Brett had a "spark" in him that was special, He had a real zest for life like no one else. I'll always remember his smile, a uniquely sarcastic sense of humor, and a great thirst for adventure, There were many good times had by our gang of friends, some outrageous exploits, during our youth, but it was a different time. We were teenagers doing silly teenage things, and loving every minute of it. The thing I admired about Brett was that he had an inner "Zen" and calmness about him that was rare for someone our age. Brett was a magnetic individual that tended to find the good in any situation, and he was very easy to like. Brett was always very kind to me, and he was a good friend. I love him like a brother, and even though our paths never crossed again after high school, I'll think fondly of him and our friendship, for the rest of my days. I am blessed to be able to call him a childhood friend, whom I loved like my own family.

Rest in Peace, my brother. I'll catch up to you on the trail, so leave the fire burning for me. As Within, Never Without.

With Love,

Mack William Brown

Mack Brown (two-tone) , Sanford, FL, US Nov 11, 2020

Rest in peace, Brett. You will be remembered for the love you showed your family, and your great spirit of adventure.

Patti Hildreth , Alpine, TX, US Nov 04, 2020

I love you, Uncle Brett.

Melissa Marszycki , Oakley, CA, US Nov 04, 2020

I hadn’t seen Bret in some time and had no idea about the cancer. My condolences to Chris and Josh. The Bret I knew had an indomitable, positive spirit, almost always good word for anybody and any situation. He was a very creative man and had an incredible work ethic; second to none. To know him was very life affirming. What a great guy. He will truly be missed by all the people in his life.

John Norris , Salt Lake City, UT, US Nov 03, 2020

Dear Josh, Kira and Isbell Family,

I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to him. I know the pain of losing a parent way too soon, and my heart is with you. I hope you will be able to wrap yourselves in a blanket of warm memories, and find contentment in knowing that he is free of pain and is at peace. May you each feel his positive presence in your heart.

Cindy Gust-Jenson , Salt Lake City, UT, US Nov 03, 2020