Dr. Brett Naylor Kronenberger died peacefully at home, surrounded by family, on Oct. 27, 2017. She had waged a fierce four-month fight against NUT midline carcinoma with bravery and consummate grace. Brett was salt of the earth, a woman in full, a truth-teller, a doer, a risk-taker, and a healer.
She loved children, hiking, young adult literature, spending time with family and friends, dancing, exercising, learning, being outdoors, yoga, skiing, hosting exchange students, traveling, and saying ''yes." Brett was an ardent dance mom, soccer mom, Montessori mom, Bulldog mom, Griz mom, and go-to mom.
Brett was born in 1965 in Odessa, Texas to Don and June Naylor. She completed her B.A. with honors in history at University of Texas at Austin in 1987. She undertook a year-long American Heart Association pre-doctoral research fellowship, then graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas in 1992.
She married Don Kronenberger in April of 1992 in Houston. The couple had their first son, Louis, during Brett's internal medicine residency at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. Seeking proximity to the Rocky Mountains and the comforts of smaller town life, Brett established medical practice in Butte in 1995. Daughter Claire was born in Butte in 1996, and son Oscar in 1998.
Brett's career as a healer in Butte included a special interest in women's health and wellness both in and out of the clinic, establishing a multi-disciplinary Center for Women's Health, facilitating health education programs, and volunteering as a yoga and aerobics instructor. She received the YMCA's Red Triangle Award (1998) and Hester Davis and Peggy Sarsfield Program Leadership Award (2002).
Brett was a member of Mercury Street Medical from 1995 to 2005. In 2005, Brett became a pioneering Chief Hospitalist with Sound Physicians, where she was recognized as an inaugural Senior Partner in 2016. In that same year, she received further board certification in Internal Medicine with Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine.
Brett was a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (ACP). In 2016, the Montana Chapter of the ACP bestowed on Brett its highest award, the Laureate Award. Brett served on the Governor's Council of the Montana Chapter of ACP since 2003, where one of her most satisfying efforts was meeting with President Barack Obama in Bozeman in 2009 to support passage of the Affordable Care Act to care for more Montanans. As recently as May 2017, Brett met with Senators Tester and Daines in Washington, D.C., representing ACP, seeking to maintain access to affordable healthcare for Montanans.
Brett served two terms as president of the medical staff of St. James Healthcare and served on the hospital's Board of Directors from 2005 to 2008. She served the non-profit quality improvement organization Mountain-Pacific Quality Health from 1998 to 2015, where she served on its board from 2005 to 2014 and as president from 2012 through 2014. Brett served on the Board of Trustees of the Montana Medical Association from 2003 to 2011, serving as its president in 2010.
Brett had recently joined the medical staff of Deer Lodge Medical Center and was immensely enjoying her work there until her professional practice was interrupted by illness.
Brett was preceded in death by her remarkable mother, June Franklin Naylor, a past President-General of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a dedicated social activist in Odessa, Texas. Brett was also preceded in death by cousin, Dee Franklin of Houston, Texas.
She is survived by her husband, Don Kronenberger of Butte, Montana; her sons, Louis and Oscar and daughter, Claire, all of Butte; her father, Dr. Donald Oscar Naylor (Corrine) of Odessa, Texas; her sister, Valerie Riefenstahl (Ed) of Grapevine, Texas; her brother, Dr. Mark Naylor (Carla) of Waco, Texas, and her brother, James of Big Spring, Texas; her uncle, Homer Franklin (Helen) of Houston, Texas; cousin, Liz Kirk (Steve) of Little Rock, Arkansas; and numerous nieces, nephews, and other relatives.
Even in the last and hardest days of Brett's fight against cancer, she told her family, "Each morning that I wake to see the sun, I know that it and every day is a gift."
The family is tremendously grateful for the immense love and support extended by the community of Southwest Montana during Brett's illness.
A celebration of Brett's life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Mother Lode Theatre, 316 W. Park St., Butte. A reception will follow at the Treasure State Room of the Finlen Hotel, 100 E. Broadway St., Butte. All are welcome.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be made to the non-profit Silver Bow Montessori School, 1800 Sunset Rd., Butte, Montana 59701, the Butte Education Foundation, P.O. Box 3821, Butte, Montana 59702, or to the charity of your choice.
Axelson Alternative Cremation is privileged to serve Brett’s family.