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Published: Sunday, 2/13/2005

Michigan teacher was a mentor to young educators

ADRIAN - Rolf E. Moeckel, a teacher of teachers known for his religious faith and love of the farm, died Friday at the Lenawee Medical Center Facility. He was 80.

Mr. Moeckel died of complications from a fractured hip, family members said.

Born in Jackson, Mich., and raised on a family farm in nearby Munith, Mich., Mr. Moeckel grew up tending to his parent's crops, cattle, and sheep. Their farm was one of the primary dairy providers for Jackson Dairy Ice Cream Parlor, and Mr. Moeckel never escaped the tastes he developed in his childhood.

"He always enjoyed a good bowl of ice cream," his daughter, Karen Moeckel, said. "We enjoyed a lot of laughs over them."

He was a graduate of Munith High School.

At 18, Mr. Moeckel left to serve in World War II in the European Theater, where he quickly saw conflict.

Stationed with a U.S. Army infantry division known as "the Lightning Division," Mr. Moeckel received a Bronze Star for taking part in the battle for the Remagen bridge in Germany.

"The division was very quick at getting themselves in and around the theater at a moment's notice," his son, Brian, said.

After the war, Mr. Moeckel left the service as a private first class and returned to Munith, where he married neighbor Phyllis Stanfield.

He attended Michigan State University, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in agriculture and earned his doctorate in education in 1960.

During his first job after college, teaching at Onsted, Mich., schools, he sponsored the local Future Farmers Association.

"He would help farm kids raise their animals, get them ready to show at fairs," his son said.

In 1962, he stopped teaching agriculture and began teaching in Adrian College's teacher education department, placing student teachers in schools across Lenawee County until he retired as chairman in 1987.

"He was seen as a mentor and patron to hundreds of young teachers," his daughter said.

In retirement, Mr. Moeckel traveled to Europe to visit some of his old battlefields, and went at least once a year to a Michigan State football game.

Mr. Moeckel was well-known for his faith, serving as a deacon at the Bethany Assembly of God Church, and as past president of the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship.

"As a leader, he could both sit back and work or take the lead, and was very highly respected for that," his daughter said.

Mr. Moeckel was also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Phi Delta Kappa, and the Lenawee County Retired Teachers Association.

Surviving are his wife, Phyllis; sons, Keith, Barry, and Brian; daughter, Karen Moeckel; twin sister, Natalie Asquith; brother, James, and three grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. today at the Braun Everiss Wagley Funeral Home.

Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Bethany Assembly of God Church.

The family suggests tributes to the Wycliffe Bible Translators, Hospice of Lenawee, or the Jackson County Department of Aging.

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