Thomas E. Hanzel, 78

Thomas E. Hanzel, age 78, of New Prague died peacefully with his family at his side on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 at Mayo Clinic Health System Hospital New Prague.  Tom was born on July 16, 1943 in Mankato to Louis and Joella (Berg) Hanzel.  The family moved frequently with Louis’s job with the mill, finally settling in New Prague, where Tom completed his high school education, graduating from NPHS as the only NP athlete to letter in four sports in one school year.  He went on to Mankato State University, completing his bachelor’s degree.  He married his high school sweetheart, Deborah A. Bruzek on September 2, 1967 at St. Wenceslaus Church.  While they were on their honeymoon, Tom’s military service draft papers came through and they had to cut their honeymoon short.  Tom entered the US Navy and served on the US Oriskany in Tonkin Bay, Vietnam.  Following discharge, Tom returned to Mankato State University and attained his Master’s degree in Psychology.  He worked as a licensed psychologist at the Faribault State Hospital and remained there for 27 years, until the State Hospital closed its doors.  During his tenure there, he published multiple professional studies.  Tom was dedicated to his profession and had a special place in his heart for the residents at Faribault; likewise, he impacted many lives in a variety of settings throughout his life with those professional skills.

 Tom’s athletic talents continued into later years.  He thoroughly enjoyed golfing and especially bowling, accomplishing multiple 300 games.  He enjoyed a good game of Bridge, and thoroughly enjoyed the couples’ Bridge club that his wife signed them up for!  He dabbled a bit in hunting but found fishing to be his outdoor activity of choice.  One of his greatest passions came after the death of his son, John, who saw the potential in his dog, Bo, to become a champion retriever.  Tom took on that challenge to honor John and became an avid dog-trainer, training Bo. Ron Schara, of Minnesota Bound picked up that story, came to Tom’s home to interview him and Deb regarding Bo’s championship status and the segment was featured on Schara’s Minnesota Bound. Before health issues forced Tom to a more home-bound life, Tom was a daily visitor to the bakery and  McDonalds where he enjoyed spirited conversations with friends and locals.  The smile that lit up his face and radiated to his eyes will be missed by all who knew him.

 Tom is survived by his wife, Deb, of New Prague; children, Mary Lisa (Vince) Neuzil of Sumner, Iowa, Jennifer (Randy) Von Bank-Busch of New Prague, Paul Hanzel (significant other, Brenda Belisle) of New Prague; grandchildren, Megan (Kyle) O’Malley, Katie Irwin, Rachel (Dalton) Schmidt, Sophie Busch, Casey Busch, Hallie Von Bank, Jon Von Bank, Joey Busch, Max Hanzel, Ella Hanzel, Annie Hanzel.  He is preceded in death by his son, John; parents; brother, John; sister, Mary Schlesinger.

 Per Tom’s request, private family services will be held.  bruzekfuneralhome.com

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