ELLINWOOD — Joseph M. Hickel, 81, died June 20 at Ellinwood. A lifetime resident of Barton County, he was born to Louis J. and Katherine (Robl) Hickel on Jan. 2, 1930, in the Sts. Peter & Paul area. He married Helen McPherson, of rural Ellinwood, on Dec. 29, 1954.
Joe attended Sts. Peter & Paul rural school, Ellinwood High School, St. Joseph Military Academy and Fort Hays State University.
He served in the Korean Conflict from 1951-1953 in the 45th Inf. Div. Awards & Decorations at Yongdungpo and was assigned to the Stars & Stripes newspaper in Tokyo, Japan. Upon his return, he completed his master’s degree in Administration of Education.
Hickel was an educator for 37 years in the Ellinwood School system. He first served as principal/teacher at Wheatland from 1955-1963. Moving into the Ellinwood Public Schools, he dedicated the rest of his teaching and administration career. After retiring, he continued his involvement in education by supervising student teachers for Newman University and Sterling College.
Hickel initiated and hosted the "Focus on Ellinwood" program on radio station KVGB. He was one of the founding organizers of the Barton County Relay for Life, continuing to serve on the committee, always introducing the mayors at the event. Joe served as Ellinwood mayor for 12 years. He enjoyed all sports and attending athletic events, especially when grandchildren were involved.
He wrote histories, some addressing the Ellinwood Public School, K of C and several local Catholic churches. Honors included Ellinwood Rotary Outstanding Citizen of the Year, After Harvest Festival Parade Grand Marshal, Barton County Appreciation Day Grand Marshal, and KS Knight of the Year (K of C - 2011).
Hickel cochaired the St. Joseph Church Centennial in 2000 and its 125th anniversary celebration in 2001. His love and respect of Sts. Peter and Paul Church led to him serving on the Association Board to restore the Mother Church of the Dodge City Diocese after the 2007 tornado.
He was a member of the VFW, American Legion, Board of Directors of Wheat Bowl, a 4th Degree Knight, former chair of Gathering of the Eagles, past president of Barton County Retired School Personnel Association for NEA/KNEA, and cochaired School Facilities, which passed a $6 million bond issue for Ellinwood schools.
Survivors include his wife, of the home; sons Greg Hickel, Ellinwood, Scott Hickel (Deb), Denver, Colo., and Kevin Hickel (Angie), Manhattan; daughters Diana Zecha (Paul) and Pam Koester (Rich), both of Hoisington; grandchildren Bethany Ramsey (James), Kyle and Steven Zecha, Lacey, Brianne, Jackie, MacKenzie and Rylie Koester, Elisha (Dan) Toles, Josh Hickel, and Caden and Greyson Hickel; great-grandchildren Lena and Carlie Ramsey, and Jordan Toles; and one sister, Dorothy Christoph, Lenexa. He was preceded in death by brothers George, Arthur and Martin Hickel, and sisters Louise Doll, LaVonne Graves and Helen Zink.
Funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Ellinwood, with Father Charles Mazouch officiating. Calling time will be from 1-8 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. until service time Saturday at Kimple Funeral Home. Altar Society rosary will be at 3 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. Vigil service will be at 7 p.m. Friday, followed by Knights of Columbus rosary at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, north of Ellinwood. Burial will be in the Lakin-Comanche District Cemetery, Ellinwood. Memorials are suggested to Sts. Peter and Paul Church Preservation and Restoration Fund, in care of the funeral home.
Funeral arrangements provided by
Kimple Inc. Funeral Home*
113 North Main; P.O. Box 246
Ellinwood, KS 67526
Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, June 22, 2011