Bob Hanzel, 94 - Obituary

Robert ‘Bob’ Hanzel of New Prague, died with his children at his side on December 26th at Mayo Clinic Health System in New Prague. Born on October 4th, 1928, he was the only child of John C. and Mayme Hanzel. Bob attended St. Wenceslaus Catholic School, speaking only Czech upon entering.  Czech heritage remained important to him throughout his life.  He proudly recited Czech poems and sayings, sang Czech songs, and spoke in Czech to his family at every opportunity. 

 Bob graduated in 1946 from New Prague High School. After graduation, he enlisted in the US Army and served as Sergeant of the Guard in Trieste, Italy, during World War II. Upon his return from service in 1948, Bob purchased a school-desk refinishing business located in New Prague’s original livery stable.  

 Bob married his high-school sweetheart, Myrtle Retka, of St. Thomas, in 1951. Together they raised seven children and began to expand Bob’s business.

 Over the years, Bob worked to hone his skills in restoring treasured heirloom antiques, serving local customers as well as customers from across the country. He expanded his business to include working with his father, John (Jack), and his three sons; Bob helped each to refine their work in specific areas of restoration expertise. Bob’s work was celebrated in a feature article by Oliver Towne in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, highlighting his quality craftsmanship. “Hanzel Antique Restoring” was later featured on KSTP-TV’s nationally-syndicated program, Country Day. Despite his failing health, Bob continued to visit the shop daily, reluctantly retiring the business in recent years.

 Bob was an avid outdoorsman. From his love of hunting pheasants and ducks with his dogs, to fishing and renewing his love of golf in his 60’s, Bob loved the outdoors and shared his passion for its stewardship and respect with all his children.

 Bob was a loving husband to his Myrtle Marie for 68 years. In 2014, Bob and Myrt were recognized in the New Prague Times as being “the longest married couple of the New Prague Catholic Community with 62+ years of marriage.” He took exceptional care of Myrt up until the day she died, visiting her daily at Mala Strana, until Covid-19 restrictions limited his daily visits to outside her window; he was present there at the moment of her death. His daily visits continued at Myrt’s gravesite until his death.

 Bob is preceded in death by his wife, Myrt, his parents, and son-in-law, Kevin Carpentier. He is succeeded by his seven children: Rick (Judy) Hanzel of New Prague; Anne Hanzel of Bluffton, SC; Thomas J. Hanzel of Kilkenny; Mary Pat Carpentier of New Prague; Beth (Pete) Giesen of Rochester; David (Suki) Hanzel of Prior Lake; Gretchen Parks (Jeff) of Phoenix, AZ., and by 18 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

 Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, December 30, 2022 at 11 AM at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church with Father Eugene Theisen officiating. Visitation will take place that morning from 9-10:30 at Bruzek Funeral Home. Burial will follow Mass at St. Wenceslaus Cemetery where military honors will be conducted by the New Prague Area Veterans Honor Guard. bruzekfuneralhome.com

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