Jerome Robert Markel, 83, of Crookston, MN, died peacefully August 16, 2012 with Sarah and Diane at his side. Jerome was born in Starkweather, ND on December 12, 1928, one of five children of the union of Anton Joseph and Anna Mary (Brazda) Markel. He was born and raised Catholic, deeply loving his faith and participating fully, even to the end. As a young man, he learned welding and metalwork from his father, the town's blacksmith. Following his graduation from Starkweather High School in 1946, Jerome attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks for one year. He attended Lake Region Junior College in Devils Lake in 1947 while working as a mortician's apprentice in Cando, ND. In 1948 he began working for the U.S. Post Office in Devils Lake, ND as a Window Clerk, or as he put it: "The 'Hey you, kid, come here' position." In 1952, he was called to active duty with the U.S. Army and stationed in Texas; he received an Honorable Discharge in 1954 with the rank of Corporal, and for his service to his country was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. After returning to Devils Lake from active duty, Jerome resumed his employment with the Postal Service and opened his ornamental iron business called Markel Metal Art Shop. He was concurrently a thirty-year member of the Devils Lake Volunteer Fire Department, serving as Secretary; they will escort him on the antique fire truck to the gravesite, providing the Fireman's Prayer and ringing of the bell for The Last Alarm.
Jerome was united in marriage to Claryce Scharf on August 24, 1949 at St. Joseph Church, Devils Lake. In 1959, he and Claryce welcomed their son, Robert, into their family who was only with them a short sixteen years before he was killed. His grief was magnified when Claryce passed away on January 24, 1976. On September 22, 1978, he married Diane Kay Vollmer at Corpus Christi Church, Bismarck, ND. Jerome and Diane were blessed with the birth of daughter, Sarah Annette, born in February of 1981. Sarah will be united in marriage to her fiancé, Dwight Dean Bratholt, on September 30, 2012. While hoping that her father would be physically present at her wedding, Jerome recently told her "if that is not possible, I will always be with you." Jerome dearly loved his children, Robert and Sarah.
Jerome continued to rise through the ranks of the postal system and in 1978 achieved his ultimate goal, becoming a Postmaster and he moved to Crookston, MN. During his tenure, Jerome made sure that all letters addressed to Santa were delivered and replied to personally by Santa. After retirement as Crookston's Postmaster in 1986, Jerome began working for Courier Dispatch. In 1989, he moved to Grand Forks and was employed by the Soo Line Railroad as a section worker. Since the age of five, when steam locomotives passed through Starkweather, Jerome was fascinated by trains. He had been alert to the sounds of the engineers' whistles since that time and knew the engines and their numbers, where they had been, and where they were headed. When he first began working for the Post Office in Devils Lake the mail arrived by train, and Jerome knew all of the routes in North Dakota. He was an avid collector of railroad memorabilia.
Page 2 of 2 - Jerome's Catholic faith was a mainstay in his life. Through his memberships in the parishes of St. Joseph's in Devils Lake, the Cathedral in Crookston, and Holy Family in Grand Forks, he served as a Reader, Eucharistic Minister, and took Communion to the sick. He also did volunteer work at Sacred Heart in East Grand Forks and St. Michael's Grand Forks. Professionally, Jerome was a member of the National Association of Post Masters of the United States, and the National League of Postmasters. While living in Devils Lake he was a past Faithful Navigator of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, a member and past Exalted Ruler of the Elks Lodge, a past Commander and Adjutant of the American Legion Post, and a Boy Scout leader when his son, Robert, was active in scouting. For many years, Jerome was a member of Crookston Lions Club, which matched his lifelong passion of providing service to local communities. While in Crookston, he was a volunteer with the Crookston Community Theater and the local hospice organization. For the continuation of his hospice efforts after moving to Grand Forks, Jerome received the J C Penney Golden Rule Award in 1994. The Sertoma Club of Grand Forks presented him its prestigious Mankind Award in 1994.
He enjoyed listening to music, whether classical, musical theater, or performed by Lori Line. Jerome looked forward to entertaining friends, having them over for malted milk or sharing his favorite Widman's candy, "chippers." In retirement, he was part of the coffee klatch at the Grand Forks Hardee's: "friends meeting Monday through Friday for breakfast and visiting." Flowers were special to him and he gave his roses lots of TLC. He heartily approved of his daughter, Sarah's, choices for her wedding bouquet. A friend, Mary Mannes, referred to him as "the Rose Man" since he brought her a rose every Friday for two years following the death of her husband. He was a social, friendly, curious, compassionate, generous, loving, and very kind man. May God richly bless the memory of Jerome Robert Markel.
Loving family members include his daughter, Sarah Annette Markel of Minneapolis, MN and her fiancé, Dwight Dean Bratholt; his "close associate," Diane Kay Markel of White Bear Lake, MN; a brother, Raymond Markel, Bismarck, ND; sisters, Dorothy Brightbill and Angeline (Ralph) Miller, both of Portland, OR; a sister-in-law, Phyllis Markel, Bismarck; and several nieces, nephews, as well as many friends including residents and staff of Villa St. Vincent, Crookston where he lived the last three years. In addition to his first wife, Claryce, and son, Robert, Jerome was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Gordon Markel; sister-in-law, Edna Markel; and brother-in-law, John Brightbill.
The Mass of Christian Burial celebrating the life of Jerome Markel will be held at 10:30 am, Tuesday, August 21, 2012, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Crookston with Monsignor Roger Grundhaus, presiding. Visitation will be at the Cathedral on Monday, August 20, 2012 from 5:00—7:00 pm, and all are welcome to enjoy brats and sauerkraut from 5:30-6:30. The Rosary led by the Crookston Knights of Columbus will precede the prayer service, which begins at 7:00 pm; this will be followed by informal sharing of stories by Jerome's family and friends. Military Honors will be provided by the Crookston Veterans Council. A graveside service will be held at 4:00 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Devils Lake, ND. The Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home, Crookston, MN is assisting the family with arrangements. Online registry at www.stenshoelhouske.com