Harold Dean Bartel, 96, and a 68-year resident of the North Newton community, passed away Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020.
Harold was born February 14, 1924, at McPherson County Hospital to parents Edward W. and Ida (Schroeder) Bartel, joining 6-year-old brother Wesley. The childhood home was a farm eight miles northwest of Hillsboro and a “stones-throw” from Lehigh and Durham.
As was common in rural. mid-America during that era, Harold and his only sibling grew up in a drafty farmhouse lacking plumbing and electricity. Low German was the
language spoken in the home. His trek to the one-room schoolhouse (Silverfield) serving grades one through eight, was not far… merely 1/4 mile down the lane road.
During his formative years, Harold’s family was active in the life of Johannesthal Mennonite Church located on a rural elevation northwest of Hillsboro. This is the setting
where he first made the acquaintance of a shy farm girl, also from rural Hillsboro. Louise Goertz and Harold were married in August 1946.
Harold graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1941. His further education at Bethel College was interrupted after completing his freshman year for nearly five years
Harold started his career as a 6th grade teacher in Valley Center. He endured two years of that and resigned in 1952 after securing employment at the North Newton Post
Office. Harold worked for 30 years at the post office and 50 years at the Mennonite Press (both terms running concurrently during the first 30 years). Harold was celebrated by the
Mennonite Press in May 2002 as the employee with the longest tenure in the company history.
Since 1953 Harold was an active and dedicated member of Bethel College Mennonite
Church, serving in many roles. He also served his community on the North Newton City
Council and the North Newton Housing Authority (Wheatland Homes).
The combination of 12-hour workdays and his inclination for perfectionist labor intensive
lawn care standards left little time or energy for pursuing hobbies. However, when in his late teens, Harold discovered the genre of Jazz music, he was hooked on what became a lifetime passion. Feeling disapproval by parents and some others in the wider community, he felt the need to keep this interest essentially “closeted.” In subsequent years, the frequent jazz concerts presented by Bethel’s music department brought boundless joy to Harold’s life.
Preceding Harold in death were his parents, his only sibling Wesley Bartel and in
2014, his wife of 68 years, Louise.
He is survived by his three children: son, Fred (Susan) Bartel of North Newton, and daughters Judith Bartel of North Newton and Natalie (Gary) Hand of Colwich; four grandchildren, Amanda (Derick) Perez of Wylie, Texas, Justin Bartel of Richmond, Va., Jordan (Riann) Hand of Wichita and Rachel
Hand of Wichita; and five great-grandchildren.
Respectful of health and safety concerns during the current virus pandemic, a public
memorial service honoring Harold will be delayed.
Memorial donations are suggested to: Kidron Bethel Village Health Care Benevolent Fund, Bethel College Jazz Program and/or North Newton Community Foundation, in care of Petersen Funeral Home in Newton.