Donald John “Don the Barber” Speckel, age 85, of Hamel, passed away Monday, June 13, 2016, unexpectedly, after complications from surgery.
He was born Aug. 29, 1930, in Watertown, to John and Helen (Gonsior) Speckel. Donald grew up in rural Watertown, spending his free time with friends hunting and fishing in the local lakes and woods.
In his youth, Don worked in many different areas: he was a musician in a band called the Country Cousins, he worked as a landscaper, and even traveled with a carnival for a short time, besides working on the family farm.
His life came into focus when he met his love, Mary Therese Kuka. They married June 24, 1953, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Watertown.
By 1960, Don decided on a career in haircutting and enrolled in a barber school in Minneapolis. In the 1970s, he purchased the Hopkins Hair House, which he owned and operated.
Don’s family always came first in his life, but he was also active in many community groups. He did some volunteering for the Delano Boy Scouts by driving camping equipment up to Many Point, he was a member of the Delano Knights of Columbus, the Loretto Lions Club, the Loretto Snobirds, and Trail Dusters Saddle Club (where he was the Parade Master for 15 years).
Don was also a member of the Delano Sportsmen’s Club; working at the bingo stand every 4th of July. As a member of the Midwest Barber Association, he helped organize the yearly shows and won the Barber of the Year trophy. As a Hopkins businessman, he was active in the Hopkins community, and donated to many events, including Hopkins Raspberry Days.
Many of Don’s friends, family, and the Rolling Hills Road neighborhood children got their haircuts in his basement barber chair.
His most enjoyable hobby was playing base fiddle and guitar in the Manure Spreaders Band.
Don went on many deer hunting trips with his friends, sons, and grandchildren, in both Minnesota and Wyoming. He also spent many weekends snowmobiling, camping, riding his horse, Cheyenne, in parades; and many other family events.
In his later years, Don could be talked into closing his barber shop for a week each year and he and Mary took trips to Washington, Canada, Texas and Georgia. Don lived a long, active, and blessed life.
He was preceded in death by his father, John Speckel; mother Helen; stepfather Frank Speckel; brother Ralph Speckel; brothers-in-law Archie, Tom, and Joe Kuka, and Ed Gallus; sister-in-law Monica (Gallus) Neaton; and nephews Tom Gallus and Tom Kuka, Jr.
Don is survived by his wife of 63 years, Mary; children Mike (Jane), Tim (Patty), Paula (Jay) Higashi, and Patty Cleveland; 10 grandchildren: John (Martha) Speckel, Sarah (Derek) Huydma, Tommy (Kaarin) Speckel, Justine (Josh) Grover, Miranda (Jake) Duske, Payton Speckel, Kamiko Higashi, Toshi Higashi, Kyra Cleveland, and Lydia Cleveland; and 10 great-grandchildren: Amelia, Gabriel, Graham, Callan, Ava, Sullivan, Liviana, Andrew, Grady, and Hazel.
He is further survived by sisters Marian (Dick) Spetz and Joanne Karels; sisters-in-law MaryAnn and Marian Kuka; and brother-in-law Jim Neaton.
Mass of Christian Burial took place Tuesday, June 21 at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Delano. Interment was in the church cemetery.
Visitation was Monday, June 20 from 4 to 8 p.m., with a 3:30 p.m. Knights of Columbus Rosary Service, at the Iten Funeral Home in Delano; and continued Tuesday, from 10 to 11 a.m., at the church, prior to the Mass.
Arrangements were with the Iten Funeral Home in Delano.