Michael C. Brestel

It is with great sadness, we announce the passing of Mike Brestel, HLM & NMRA Fellow, on May 22, 2024, at the age of 73. Mike embodied the spirit of volunteerism and service at all levels of the NMRA for over 57 years. He provided outstanding service to our members, and our staff, mentoring future leaders, and providing encouragement to members at all levels of our organization.

Mike was much more than a volunteer to the NMRA, he was a husband to Mary, father to his daughter Rebecca, and grandfather to two adorable girls. He served his community through the Booster group at his offspring’s school and the Civic Business Association. He was active in his church and served as a youth group leader for many years. He was an avid Cincinnati Reds fan and followed the Reds to his last days.

We know Mike best for his service to the NMRA starting in 1966 when he was only fifteen years old – even before he joined the NMRA in 1967. He became a Life Member early on when his wife gave it to him as a present. He was on the publicity committee for the 2006 National NMRA Convention in Cincinnati – a convention sponsored by The Cincinnati Model Railway Club (established in 1934), an O-scale Club that Mike joined much later and served as Club President for many years.

Mike was a former NMRA President (2006-2012), Vice-President (2004-2006), Mid-Central Region National Trustee (1993-2004), At-Large World-Wide Director, Nominating Committee Chair, Publications Manager, Policy Committee Chair, Honor Committee Chair, Calendar Editor, Insurance Coordinator, and was a member of the Howell Day Museum Committee. He became Honorary Life Member #58 in 2012, received a Meritorious Service Award, four President’s Awards (2005, 2016, 2019, 2021), and was honored with an NMRA Fellow award in 2024.

He was Publicity Chair for the 1980 National Model Railroad Exposition in Cincinnati which was sponsored by the Model Railroad Industry Association (MRIA).

In the Mid-Central Region, Mike served as President (1976-1983), National Region Trustee (1993-2004), and Region Contest Chair (1976-1983). He served the MCR well over the years.

He was an active member of Cincinnati Division 7 of the MCR in many different roles over the year. He served as Superintendent (1988-1992), Assistant Superintendent (1984-1988), Treasurer (1982-1984), Board of Directors (1993-1997 & 20023-2024), OilCan (newsletter) Editor (1972-1979), OilCan Publisher (1986-1997), and Special Projects Co-chair (2017-2021).

He was a member of four different train-related clubs over the years, serving each with passion and vision. He started with the Western Hills Model Railroad Club (HO), then The Cincinnati & Great Western Model Railroad Club (HO), then the Cincinnati Model Railway Club (O-2 Rail), the Cincinnati Railroad Club, and the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society. He brought his knowledge and spirit of volunteerism to each club over the years.

He served the model railroad community by working in a hobby shop (The Model Railroad Shop) during his teen years, then at Walt’s Hobby Shop, and then as owner of Western Hills Photo & Hobby Shop until his passing.

He was my closest friend for over 50 years and will be missed every day. The consolation is that he is now with all the other close model railroad friends who have also passed away. We miss them all, but they now have unlimited space to build model railroads.

Frank Koch, May 22, 2024


Sad news from Cincinnati. Mike Brestel passed away early Wednesday afternoon, he was recently moved to a hospice center. He was very active in the NMRA and Mid Central Region, having served as president at both levels, as well as numerous positions. No other details at this time.
Harry "Butch" Sage. 22 May 2024

Thanks for the heads up. He was president around the time I joined. I remember being impressed that a “local” was such a big fish.
Matt Goodman 22 May 2024

The attached obit came in from Frank Koch via Region President Dave Neff today.
Matt Goodman 23 May 2024

He will be missed by those who knew him.
Darrell Logan 24 May 2024