Harold Dean Bartel, age 96, and a 68-year resident of the North Newton community,
passed away Saturday, December 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 8 miles northwest of
Hillsboro, Kansas 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
by an agricultural deferment from the draft during WWII. Harold ultimately graduated
with the class of 1950 with majors in Social Science and Bible.
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
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; daughters Judith Bartel of North Newton and Natalie
(Gary) Hand of Colwich. Also four grandchildren: Amanda (Dierik) Perez of Wylie,
Texas, Justin Bartel of Richmond, Virginia, Jordan (Riann) Hand of Wichita, Rachel
Hand of Wichita. And 5 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
North Newton Community Foundation
In care of Petersen Funeral Home