September 11, 1932 - November 15, 2020
The world lost an amazing man, Joseph Bernard Hengel. Everyone in the area seemed to know him. He was born September 11, 1932 to Joseph and Hildegarde (Buchner) Hengel.
He was preceded in death by his brothers, John (Edna) and Ed (Rose), and his sisters, Patty Hinytzke (Dick) and Mona McIntyre (Dan).
His work ethic started early with a large paper route on the south side of La Crosse which was not an easy task for a boy that lost his right arm to a shotgun blast while duck hunting at age 14. He went on to set bowling pins at Holy Trinity Lanes. After that it was off to Aquinas High School. While not the greatest student they ever had, he may have been the most ambitious. The nuns there have been quoted as saying, “Joe Hengel you will never amount to anything!” He took that as a challenge. After graduation in 1950, he went on to work as a plumber in his family’s business. He and his brother John soon branched away from the family business and created Hengel Brothers Plumbing.
In 1954 he married Lois Helgerson. They have four children: Jane Walz (Richard), Joe (Sue), Judy (Billy), and Jim (Kris); six grandchildren: Brad Walz (Britni), Jess Dzurko (Ashley), Jennifer Kopp (Jeff), Ross Dzurko (Lindsey), Joey Hengel, and Jason Hengel (Ali); and four great grandchildren: Everett, Charlotte, Mille, and Isaac.
Family was the most important thing in his life and according to Dad, “Nothing Else Matters”. After years in the plumbing business, he looked to other opportunities such as multifamily apartment complexes. He built thousands of rental units in the tri-state area, not to mention hundreds of single-family homes in subdivisions. At eighty-eight he was still working on-site everyday with several projects still in the design stage.
As much as he loved to work, he loved to play even more. For him, no challenge was too big, so he bought an airplane and earned his pilot license in the early 1970’s. Not many pilots fly only with one arm. His favorite hobbies included hunting, fishing, and golfing. He loved to play at the La Crosse Country Club (Forrest Hills) with all his buddies. He played in the National and World Amputee Tournaments, finishing second three times. What he loved most was spending time fishing with his family, especially the annual fishing trip to Canada. In true Hengel fashion, he always had a joke, and he could deliver it. He was one of a kind, he was loved, and he will be missed.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, private family services will be held.