Braden lived a life of service and abundant giving. He was a fun-loving guy who would give you the shirt off his back to help anyone in need, and often he did just that!
You would frequently find Braden out before sunrise after a snowstorm, plowing the driveways of nearby neighbors. He was never asked; he just did. It wasn’t about getting something in return or getting recognition, it was about helping others who were truly in need and being of service to them because he was able.
Braden’s love for operating started at the young age of four when his dad built him his first snow plow out of a riding lawnmower. The blade was made from a water heater that was chopped in half, and the plow was complete with a pully system so it would raise and lower. Operating alongside his dad always gave him great joy, and they developed a bond over tractors that would keep them working side by side throughout their whole lives. During his college years, Braden ran dozer for a private contractor fighting fire. Often he worked on the same fire lines as his father, Gordie Varney, which made for some good stories and fond memories.
Braden went on to follow in his dad’s footsteps and began working as an HFEO at Cal Fire in 2007. To him, it was just another job that he loved to do. Building roads, pushing trees and brush, walls of flames 20 feet high, steep terrain, long hours, and weeks away from the family were all part of the job. Sure, it was tough at times, but he felt a sense of pride and accomplishment being able to save and protect people’s homes and property.
Operating equipment was truly what Braden loved to do! Even in his off time he was operating and helping others out. He donated countless hours reconstructing and clearing roads due to natural disasters and building new roads to support the vision and gift of a local church camp in his hometown.
In July 2018, Braden was dispatched to the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County. Tragedy struck that night when the roadway gave out and his dozer went tumbling down the steep ravine. Braden passed in the early morning of July 14th protecting his hometown that he loved so much. We will never forget his sacrifice.
Braden will forever be remembered for his generous heart, big smile, and true talent! He will forever be our hometown hero!