J. Peter Hamel

ROCKFORD, Ill. – J. (John) Peter Hamel, 92, of Rockford, formerly of Fence, Wis., passed away Friday, July 26, 2013 at Fairhaven Christian home in Rockford.

He was born in Marquette on April 27, 1921, to the late Rev. John Christian Hamel and Roberta (Vanden-Hoek) Hamel. Pete graduated from Gravaraet High School, Marquette, in 1938 and then spent a year at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He attended Northern Michigan University for two years before enlisting in the Navy in August 1941. After spending a year at the U.S. Navy Laboratory School at Newport, R.I., he was assigned as a Pharmacist Mate (medic) to the USS Alabama. As a “planker,” he was part of the initial crew during the USS Alabama’s shake down period and then served in the North Atlantic. From 1943 until the end of World War II, Pete served as Chief Pharmacist Mate on the USS Waterman, a Destroyer Escort in the Pacific, receiving the Purple Heart and other commendations. He was honorably discharged Oct. 7, 1945.

When he returned home from Chicago in 1939, Pete met Wilma Jayne Berklund from Big Bay, Mich., who was staying at his home while she attended high school in Marquette. When he first saw her he told her he was going to marry her. Wilma’s response: “My father will have something to say about that.” They were married while Pete was home on leave in the spring of 1945.

Pete and Jayne moved to her family’s homestead farm in 1947 at the recommendation of Pete’s doctor so that he could recover from the many illnesses he had acquired in the Pacific. In 1956 Pete returned to Northern Michigan University and completed training to become a Medical Technologist. He became a Registered Medical Technologist with the American Society of Clinical Pathologists in 1959. Pete worked as a Medical Technologist at Community Hospital in Clintonville, Wis., and Community Hospital in New London, Wis. In March 1962 he was named Lay Administrator of the New London Hospital. He was subsequently Administrator at Victory Memorial Hospital in Stanley, Wis., (1963-5); Riverview Hospital, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., (1965-72); and Sheboygan Memorial Hospital, Sheboygan, Wis., (1972-83). He was member of the College of Hospital Administrators.

After retirement in the mid 1980’s, Pete and Jayne spent two years with the Christian Mission of Pignon, Haiti, setting up and improving Pignon Hospital services. After returning home they spent time with family living in Fence during the summer and Fort Meyers, Fla., in the winter. Pete loved working in his large garden and at various church activities.

Along with his parents, Pete was preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Jayne; three brothers, Peter Cornealius, Robert and John; and one sister, Helen.

He is survived by four children, Rev. William (Karen) Hamel, Apple Valley, Minn., Dr. Peter (Beverly) Hamel, Fence, Wis., Dr. Timothy (June) Hamel, Brodhead, Wis., and Wilma (Rev Peter) Akright, Waupaca, Wis; two sisters, Sarah Bignall and Mary Wolff Burnett; 13 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Fence Bible Church in Fence. Funeral services will be Saturday, Aug. 10 at 11 a.m. at the church. The Goodman-Armstrong Creek Klesewski-Leya VFW Post 7444 will accord military services at graveside.

Rev. Dr. William Hamel and Rev. Tim Smith will concelebrate.

Burial will be in Fence Cemetery.

You may light a candle in remembrance of Pete, or leave a condolence for his family online at www.JacobsFuneralHomes.com.

The family has chosen the Jacobs-Lundholm Funeral Home, Florence, to honor Pete’s legacy of life.