Harold Emil Henkel was born at home on Wednesday, January 8, 1936 to Eduard and Elizabeth (Leibold) Henkel. He was the youngest of three, joining Sarah “Phyllis” (1929) and Herbert Adolph (1934). At the time, the Henkel family were living on a farm just a few miles southeast of Owen Sound in Sydenham Township.
In 1938, the Henkels moved to a farm just north of Dornoch. They remained there until 1941 when their barn burned down. They lost almost everything in the barn; the year’s crops, the machinery and the pigs. Once again the family relocated, this time to a farm near Williamsford on the second concession of Sullivan, where Harold remained for the rest of his life.
Even after the family had moved to Sullivan Township the children continued to go to the same public school, U.S.S. #4, Holland and Sullivan, known as the Red Brick School. This enabled the older two Henkels to keep their old school chums and making new friends. Harold’s formal education went as far as grade eight. At that time he continued helping out on the farm and worked for two years as an electrician’s helper with Minkes Electric. It was also during this time that Harold began driving truck and obtained his chauffeur’s license. He also drove many years moving livestock for Mel Heft.
In his childhood, Harold enjoyed tobogganing with him and his siblings purchasing their own sled. The children also attended many Farm Forums with their parents. A really cute story is told of when Harold was only four years old and frequently went to McIntyres grocery store, for his mother, about a half a mile away from their Dornoch home. A salesman not believing what he saw, questioned Harold as to his age. Harold accurately told him and received a chocolate bar as a reward.
Lured to the wide expanse of sky and prairie in Saskatchewan, Harold went to work in 1956, on a 3,500 acre farm during the harvest. Upon returning home, he was employed at Elliot’s Feed Mill in Williamsford for four years. Harold also spent two years at the Chatsworth Fish Hatchery, working in construction, upgrading the hatchery.
It was while he was working at the hatchery that Harold met Margaret Dorothy Viola Molson at the gas station, she owned and operated in Williamsford. The attraction was immediate and after a short courtship, they were married at the Lutheran Parsonage in Desboro on November 23, 1963. If this date sounds familiar, you would be right! It was the day after JFK was assassinated. Interestingly enough, the couple spent their honeymoon in the United States and were very much limited in what they were able to do because of the President’s death. When Harold and Marg returned home they took up residence on the Henkel farm. Stephen Harold Frederick was born, December 16, 1964 and four years later Michael Harold Edward was born, September 17, 1968. It was during this time that Harold took a job with Pepplers Furniture in Hanover for another eight years, as a cabinet maker. His wage you ask? $1.25 an hour.
In August of 1967, Harold and Marg officially purchased the same 120-acre farm for $5,000.00. There they crop farmed and raised cattle, pigs, chickens, geese and even ponies. Harold continued to work off the farm, spending time at Kennedy’s and RCA in Owen Sound. His last position was with Hobarts Canada in Owen Sound where he remained until his retirement at the age of sixty-five in 2001.
When not at work, Harold remained busy within the community. He and Marg spent thirty-five years running the food concession at Moto Park, during the summer months, a motorcycle race track around the corner. He was also tasked with the job of watering the track for a time period. An interesting fact, the property of Moto Park that Harold and Margaret worked on for 35 years was previously owned by Harold’s sister, Phyllis and her husband Reg from about 1949 to 1963. In the winter months, Harold and Ken Illman ran and maintained the Williamsford arena for a number of years. Together, Margaret and Harold also volunteered at many community functions such as garden parties, Schneider’s dances, walk-a-thons, hockey tournaments, snowmobile events and many, many bonspiels.
Harold and Marg were lifelong members of St. James Lutheran Church, Williamsford and their faith was central to their lives. Along with Michael’s help, they served as caretakers of the church property, (inside the building and cemetery) for over 50 years. Harold served in the church choir, on church council, made stands for the Christmas Candlelight services and made communion wine, along with many other opportunities to serve, that arose in church life.
When Marg and Harold celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary they renewed their wedding vows, this time not in the parsonage, but in the church itself. It was a grand event with family and friends present and a party followed at the Chatsworth Legion. They celebrated their 50th anniversary at the new Williamsford Community Centre with friends and family, at a come and go tea, and in the evening a dinner.
Harold not only had a number of jobs during his lifetime but he also had several interests. He enjoyed tinkering and was very hands-on, loving to fix things. Harold also collected coins and apparently never threw anything out as there might be a time when it would come in handy! He enjoyed the process of wine making, from the crushing of the grapes, fermenting, to the bottling process. Along with Margaret and his skill of making wine for home and church, they also perfected their recipe of dandelion wine when the boys were young. Many a family member enjoyed the intoxicating properties of their dandelion wine. He enjoyed spending time with family over the holidays, especially Christmas. He was a homebody, with the boys recalling only two nights whereby their parents didn’t sleep in their own bed, and both were because of snow storms.
As part of his retirement gift, Harold bought himself a satellite dish. What a change coming from a lifetime of watching the same 2 – 3 channels. He loved watching the like of “Columbo,” “Dallas” as well as any police show programming. Game shows were another favourite of Harold’s, with “Family Feud” taking the prize. He was however, not a fan of Steve Harvey, but his love of the game outweighed the dislike of the man. Harold also enjoyed music, especially Charley Pride, Dolly Parton, and Kenny Rogers. Margaret and Harold even attended a Kenny Rogers concert along with Michael, at the Owen Sound Bayshore Arena. In his younger years, he enjoyed the occasional rye or scotch, but more recently preferred his tea and hot chocolate, most times even consuming three a day. This makes more sense when you realize that Harold loved anything sweet, desert, candy, it didn’t matter. Harold was also very fond of his animals, particularly his dogs, with his two boxers, Gus and Cindy being the most memorable companions! When Harold was around 5, the family got a black Heinz 57 (mutt) named Toby. Toby was a good working farm dog who lived to an old age of 12-14 years. When Toby was crippled and could not move anymore, Harold was the one who helped Toby out of his pain and misery, something no one else in the family could do. In those days you did not take dogs, who were in pain or great distress to the Vet to have them put to sleep. This was not easy for Harold, but he also didn’t want the animal to suffer. He was also the friendly face and meal provider for hundreds of barn cats over the years. The last barn cat, Blackie has now made it to the house as well as a stray dog Riley (who showed up October 2018) and has brought Harold much enjoyment as well. Finally, who could forget Friday shopping trips to Owen Sound. Many stories of these trips continue to live on until this day!
Harold was a kind, gentle, soft-spoken man who was always generous. He was known to be strict on occasion, and was always able to keep his wits about him. He could also be a bit of a smart @#$! He seldom said no to anyone and was always willing to help. Harold always worked hard, no matter the task, to provide for his family.
There are a couple more cute stories about Harold, although you have to ask the boys what they are. Hint: one includes Harold chasing after Stephen and the other is about helping mom out of the garbage can! Some of the life lessons he taught his boys (mostly by example) were; work hard, be independent, never complain and be a good provider. Harold was an excellent role model for this boys and always enjoyed time spent with the children and grandchildren.
Sadly, in recent years Harold began developing dementia. He was always very appreciative of the love and support he received, and was very thankful to remain at home during this time period, with Michael providing loving constant care for him, in the home, on the farm he loved. Harold always made a concerted effort to say ‘Thank You’, for any kindness shown to him. Unfortunately, he fell and broke his hip on November 30th, 2019, never returning home after that. He passed away at Grey Bruce Health Services, Markdale on Monday, December 30, 2019 in his 84th year. Even though his death is difficult for Harold’s family and friends, it is freeing for Harold – no more pain, no more tears, no more crying.
Loving father of Stephen and his wife Sheila of Southampton, Michael of R.R. #2 Chatsworth and Douglas Subject of B.C. Father-in-law of Marg Subject of Williamford and Marj Holman of Lion’s Head. Cherished grampa of Drew, Loriann, Mike, Susan, Jane, Krista, Roger, Rob and Angela and great-grandfather of Hannah, Brandon, Shayla and Alex. Harold will be dearly missed by his sister Phyllis Moore of Owen Sound, brother Herb (Nancy) of London and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife Margaret (2017), daughter Ruthann Callan, son Walter Subject and his parents Eduard and Elizabeth (Leibold) Henkel.
The family will receive friends at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Tuesday from 2 – 4 and 7 – 9 p.m. where a celebration of Harold’s life will be held on his 84th birthday, Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at 1 p.m. with visitation one hour prior to the service. His son, Pastor Michael Henkel presiding. Spring interment in St. James Lutheran Cemetery, Williamsford.
Memorial donations to the Alzheimer Society or The Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.