Harold Stanley Kachel was born on January 25, 1928 to Sam W. and Mary M. (Bukowski) Kachel in a sod house 10 miles southwest of Beaver, Oklahoma. He was the youngest of Sam and Mary’s six children: Letha, Ethel, Bertha, Alice, and Howard. Harold began school at the colorfully named Possum Trot, a one-classroom building once located east of Balko, Oklahoma. He finished grade school at Balko and then transferred to Beaver, where he graduated from Beaver High School in 1946.
Harold enlisted in the armed services after high school and served just after the end of World War II in the Army Air Force. Most of his service was with the Air Transport Command Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron stationed at Tokyo’s international airport in Japan, where he worked in the message center handling top-secret material. After his discharge, he returned home to rural Balko to help his father and older brother with their farming operation. He also began attending Panhandle A&M College (now Oklahoma Panhandle State University) in Goodwell on the GI Bill.
In 1952, Harold graduated from PAMC with a bachelor’s degree in industrial arts. He contracted to teach industrial arts and science in the newly formed Yarbrough school district. Although busy, he always found time for his favorite avocations, woodworking, drawing, copper tooling and hunting for Native American artifacts. Through the years, he put together a significant collections of Plains Indians arrowheads and other artifacts. In 1955, he earned a master’s degree in secondary administration and curriculum from Oklahoma A&M College in Stillwater. That same year, he was inducted into Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Delta Phi. He later earned a doctorate in education from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and also completed graduate studies at Oregon State University and at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
On Aug. 9, 1955, Harold and Joan Overton were married at the rural Overton home six miles south of Beaver. The Kachels worked for two years at Yarbrough Public Schools, where he served as principal and she was the school secretary. In 1956, Harold accepted a position as instructor in the industrial arts department at Panhandle A&M College and began teaching there in the fall of 1957.
During his 33-year tenure, Dr. Kachel moved up the ranks at PAMC and saw the institution’s name change a number of times. He served in all positions in the industrial arts department — instructor, professor, and head of the department — and also served as chairman of the school’s division of applied arts and later the division of business and applied arts. He helped spearhead plans for the construction of Carter Hall and provided a general layout for the building. The author of An Identification of Philosophical Beliefs of Professional Leaders and Industrial Arts Teachers, Dr. Kachel served several years on the State of Oklahoma Teacher Education Team, whose members evaluated education programs in state colleges. He also served with the North Central Association and with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
In 1965, he was appointed curator of the No Man’s Land Historical Museum for the No Man’s Land Historical Society, and his wife, Joan, also began working at the museum. In 1988, he became the registrar of the university, then vice president of academic and administrative affairs in 1989. He retired from full-time work at the university in 1990, although he continued to teach for the department of teacher education for a few years. From outside of his chosen discipline, he taught a very popular adult and continuing education course called Anthropology of the Oklahoma Panhandle. In 1992, Joan and Harold were recognized for their combined 47 years of service to the No Man’s Land Historical Museum.
After retirement, Harold and Joan returned to live in the home in which they were married, the old S.S. Strong ranch headquarters house south of Beaver. In 2007, they were named the Beaver County Farm Bureau Family of the Year. Under Harold’s direction, the family’s land enterprises — the —K Farms, now the Kachel Family Limited Partnership — grew from some 1,000 acres of inherited land from the Sam Kachel and W.E. Overton estates to more than five times that acreage. Always active in family, educational, community, and civic pursuits, Harold has been recognized with a wide array of honors. Most recently, he was the 2019 Pioneer Days King in Guymon, Okla.
Harold S. Kachel died May 9, 2021. He was preceded in death by his wife, Joan, his parents, brother and sisters. He is survived by his brother-in-law Dean Overton of Portales, N. M., his sister-in-law Mary Overton of rural Beaver, several cousins, nieces and nephews, as well as his children and their spouses, Connie and Phillip White of Wichita, Kan., Lea and Michael Morgan of Oklahoma City, and Stan and Shari Kachel of Hooker, Okla. — and his three grandchildren, Brendan Kachel, Jarret Kachel and Keaton Kachel.
The family welcomes memorial donations to:
No Man’s Land Historical Society
P.O. Box 278
Goodwell, OK 73939-027
Jones & Plummer Trail Museum
1107 Douglas Ave.
Beaver, OK 73932