Donald G. “Donnie” Herbel, 73, Bellevue resident, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, November 4, 2021, in the comfort of his own home. Don was born in Neillsville on November 13, 1947, to the late George and Mollie (Heffel) Herbel.
Don was a graduate of St. John’s Lutheran Grade School and a 1965 graduate of Neillsville High School. He then served his country in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War from 1966 until his honorable discharge in 1970. He married the love of his life, Kathy Opelt on February 20, 1971, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Neillsville, WI. In 1972 he received his Associate Degree in Applied Science Marketing from District One Technical Institute in Eau Claire.
Don explored many career opportunities including managing the Packer Hall of fame for 10 years, until he was hired at Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) in 1985. He retired from WPS after working in the gas department for 21 years. While at WPS he enjoyed everyday humor with his co-workers and made many lifetime friendships. Following retirement, he rarely missed “breakfast with the boys” every Thursday morning. He was truly a man full of life.
Don was an avid outdoorsman. One of his favorite times of the year was bow and gun deer hunting. He always looked forward to helping his son Jon and the grandkids work on deer stands and food plots. He enjoyed being in his deer stand, many times feeding the birds while he was sitting waiting for that big buck to pass by. Jon and Don looked forward to making oyster stew the Friday night of gun season, not only for the pleasure of eating it, but for luck during the season.
Don was a music enthusiast, something he had in common with his son-in-law Cal, sharing thoughts on music and lyrics. He enjoyed traveling to the away Packer games with Kathy. They also enjoyed bus trips, attending concerts, trips to Door County and a memorable 25th anniversary trip to Hawaii. He was an avid reader and made the best popcorn, with a lot of butter and salt! He was a soccer coach for the kids when they were younger and enjoyed coaching with Jim Odau. Jim and Don became lifelong buddies, which brought Jim’s wife Ruth and Kathy together and this became an everlasting friendship with the four of them. As time moved on, Don became the number one fan for his grandchildren attending their sporting events. He was known as “Papa/grandpa” his famous favorite quotes were “Papa do” and “whoopin time”.
Starting in 1979, Don consecutively ran 32 Bellin Runs, also many other 5k 10k runs with Kathy. This inspired his daughter Terri to continue his running legacy. He loved his garden and helped plant Terri’s garden each year. He and Kathy spent many years line dancing with friends at Grizzley Rose, they also enjoyed going on long bike rides and walks. He was a well-known tinkerer, spending endless hours in his shop re-loading ammo, making clocks, and working on those never-ending projects.
He was a proud member of the NRA and the DePere Sportsman’s Club. Don was also an active member of St. Bernard Parish and served as an usher among many other things.Don and Kathy recently celebrated 50 years of marriage this past February. Don’s greatest joy was his family. He was so very proud of his children and grandchildren and their successes. Being a part of their everyday life and watching them grow with Kathy.
Don is survived by his wife Kathy and their two children, Jon Herbel (Michelle Matthews), Oconto Falls and Terri (Cal) Monfils, Green Bay; eight grandchildren: Mitchell (Amanda) Herbel; Lathum Schleis and his girlfriend, Becca; Kayla Herbel; Abbie Schleis and her boyfriend Alek; Katelyn Monfils and her fiancé Jason; Kody Pelegrin and his fiancée Jordan; Ashley Pelegrin; two great grandchildren Weston Herbel and Carter Bercot; sister, Dorothy Ford; his in-laws: Pat (Jack) Eisentraut; Carol Opelt; Dennis (Jean) Opelt; Janet Smith; Tom (Kari) Opelt; Wayne (Connie) Opelt and Larry (Tina) Opelt, He is also survived by nieces and nephews and too many Minions to name.
He was preceded in death by two sisters, Dolores (Ken) Meyer and Violet (Daryl) Hardwick and brother-in-law, Gerry Ford; his in-laws, Robert and Dorothy Opelt; three brothers-in-law: Gerry Opelt; Tony Smith and Dave Eisentraut.
Friends may call at the Proko-Wall Funeral Home, 1630 E. Mason St. from 5:00-7:00 pm Friday, November 12th. The evening will close with a parish wake service at 7:00 pm. Visitation will continue on Saturday (Donnie’s birthday) at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 2040 Hillside Lane, at 11:00 am until time of Mass. Memorial Mass 1:00 pm at the church with Rev. Mark VanderSteeg officiating. Burial in Holy Martyrs Cemetery. Online condolences may be sent to Don’s family at www.prokowall.com.
Don’s family would like to thank the Bellevue Rescue and Police Departments for their valiant efforts on Don’s behalf.