ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Vernon Wilfred Hickel, 88, died peacefully at home Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in Anchorage, Alaska. Vern was the seventh of 10 children, born on April 25, 1928, to Robert and Emma (Zecha) Hickel in Claflin. In 1948, Vern left Kansas and moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where he began a life-long career in Alaska’s construction industry.
Upon arrival, Vern built a home on W. 25th Avenue. His hometown sweetheart, Madeleine Mae Hamilton, arrived in December 1948. They were married at Holy Family Church, Jan. 29, 1949. Christmas Eve, 1949, they welcomed their first of what would be 17 children.
Vern and Madeleine remained parishioners of Holy Family until 1970. They then became parishioners at the founding of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. Vern stayed active in the Church his entire life and remained a faithful servant to the Lord. He was a member of many Catholic organizations, including the Crimont Society, Knights of Columbus, founding member of One More Time Thrift Store, Catholic Jr. High Building Committee, church choirs and parish men’s groups.
Vern’s professional career was rooted in Alaska’s construction industry. He began in 1948 as an apprentice carpenter and finished his career as a Master Builder and respected businessman. His talents and passion are reflected in a multitude of developments and properties throughout Alaska, including his last note-worthy project, Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral.
Vern enjoyed family and friends, being abundantly blessed with both. His laugh was unmistakable, a smile gleaned in his eyes, his integrity was unwavering. He enjoyed gardening, hunting, and gatherings that included family, friends, or a game of Hand and Foot. He was a wonderful cook, enjoyed having family together for holidays or just a simple breakfast on a Sunday. Vern had soft spots in his heart for many things, when Our Lady of the Rosary Homeschool began in 1987, he offered them the basement in his home. In 1988, as the homeschool expanded and incorporated as Holy Rosary Academy, it moved to other locations in Anchorage and is currently located on Fireweed Lane. As providence would have it, the school’s grounds now encompass the original family home Vern built in 1948 as well as another home their family lived in from 1957 to 1965, which serves as the Academy’s Chapel.
Vernon is survived by his children and their spouses, Judy Helzer (Eric), Kathy Headlough, Karen Burger, Jim Hickel (Lisa), Mary McMillian (Lewis), Vicki Elliott (Charlie), Paul Hickel (Tammy), Pete Hickel (Laurel), Roberta Zipay (Dan), Vern Hickel (Cristy), Don Hickel (Julie), Dan Hickel, Ray Hickel (Suzanne), Marilyn Sereyko (Danny), and Jeannette Cooley (Shaun). Vern leaves behind 72 grandchildren and 71 great-grandchildren; and sisters, Viola McCafferty, Patricia Degner-Keenan, and Jeanette Parnall.
Vern was preceded in death by, his wife, Madeleine Mae (Hamilton) Hickel; a son, Thomas Anthony Hickel; a daughter, Theresa Ann (Hickel) Milazzo; a grandson Erich Vernon Cooley; parents Robert Anthony Hickel and Emma Pauline (Zecha) Hickel; a son-in-law Dale Eugene Walker; grandson-in-law, Andrew James Simonds; three brothers, Walter Hickel, Elmer Hickel, and Robert Hickel; and three sisters, Gertrude Hickel, Catherine (Hickel) Stalker, and Maxine Hickel.
Funeral Mass will be held at noon on Saturday, May 21, at Holy Family Cathedral. Visitation will be held at 10:30 a.m. and Rosary at 11:30 a.m. Burial will be held at 2 p.m. at Angelus Memorial Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers consider a donation to: St. Gabriel’s Monastery, 164 Apollo Rd. SE, Carrollton, OH 44615; Blessed Sacrament Monastery, 2645 E. 77nd Ave, Anchorage, AK 99507; or Holy Rosary Academy, 1010 W. Fireweed Lane, Anchorage, AK 99503.
Funeral arrangements provided by
Janssen’s Evergreen Memorial Chapel**
737 E. Street
Anchorage, AK 99501
Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, May 18, 2016