Joan Kachel

By Troy Morris

Dr. Harold Kachel and his wife Joan have contributed a great deal to Oklahoma Panhandle State University over the years. Harold, an OPSU Emeritus Professor of Industrial Technology and Education taught from 1957-1990 and Joan was an assistant at No Man’s Land Museum.

Harold and Joan Kachel were born in sod houses in Beaver County, Oklahoma. Harold Stanley was born on January 25, 1928, to Sam W. and Mary (Bukowski) Kachel 10 miles south of Beaver. Barbara Joan Overton was born on June 13, 1932, to W.E. and Beryl (Fronk) Overton on Clear Creek, 12 miles south of Beaver.

Harold moved with his parents to a new home in the Barker School District. He finished grade school at Balko and then transferred to Beaver, where he graduated from Beaver High School in 1946. Joan received her grade school education in Elmwood and graduated from Beaver High School in 1950. Four years later, she earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Oklahoma A&M College in Stillwater. After her graduation, she was offered a position as an assistant home demonstration agent based in Watonga, Oklahoma, where she worked until 1955.

Harold enlisted in the armed services after high school and served during 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 Balko to help his father and older brother with their farming operation. He also began attending Panhandle A&M College on the GI Bill.

In 1952, Harold graduated from PAMC with a bachelor’s degree in industrial arts and contracted to teach industrial arts and science in the newly formed Yarbrough school district. Although busy, he always found time for his favorite hobby, hunting for American Indian artifacts. In 1955, he earned a master’s degree in secondary administration and curriculum from Oklahoma A&M College. That same year, he was inducted into Kappa Delta Pi and Kappa Delta Phi. In time, he earned a doctorate in education from the University of Northern Colorado in Greely, Colorado. He also completed graduate studies at Oregon State University and at New Mexico University in Albuquerque.

On August 9, 1955, Harold and Joan were married at the Overton farm home. They spent two more years at Yarbrough 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 Panhandle A&M College and saw the institution’s name change many 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. 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, Dr. Kachel taught a very popular adult and continuing education course called Anthropology of the Oklahoma Panhandle with more than 70 students enrolled and some 130 people attending the field trips.

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 (NCATE).

In 1965, Dr. Kachel was appointed curator of the No Man’s Land Historical Museum for the No Man’s Land Historical Society and Joan began working at the museum. After the museum became affiliated with the Oklahoma Historical Society’s department of museums, Joan became a museum attendant. Through the years, she played an ever-expanding role in the day-to-day operations of the museum and received a Governor’s Commendation by Governor David Walters for her many years of service.

Among Joan’s many projects at the No Man’s Land Historical Museum, she organized a monthly local artist showing in the museum’s art gallery, an effort that was recognized by the Northwest Artist Association. In November 1982, Oklahoma Governor George Nigh honored Joan as a Distinguished Guide to Hidden Treasure for her “living survival skills,” an official project of the Oklahoma Statehood Diamond (75th) Jubilee. In 1992, Joan and Harold were recognized for their combined 47 years of service to the No Man’s Land Historical Society.

While both Harold and Joan have earned many awards through the years for their work, the primary contribution to the university is the number of OPSU students and of museum patrons and visitors who learned key pieces of knowledge that helped them build their careers and enrich their lives.

Dr. Kachel has held membership in the Panhandle State Faculty Club, American Council on Industrial Arts Teacher Association, Oklahoma Archaeological Society, Northwest Arkansas Archaeological Society, and the Goodwell Lions Club. He has been listed in Who’s Who in American Education, Community Leaders Dictionary of America, International Biography, Personalities of the South and Creative and Successful Personalities. Still very active, he currently serves on the board of directors of the Beaver County Historical Society, Beaver County Farm Bureau, Balko Lions Club, No Man’s Land Historical Society, and the Oklahoma Panhandle State University Centennial Committee.

Joan has been an active member of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution for more than 30 years and served in several officer-level positions in the local chapter.

Following retirement, the couple returned to live in the home in which they were married, the old S.S. Strong ranch headquarters house south of Beaver. Today, the Kachels still farm some and run some cattle. In 2007, they were nominated as the Beaver County Farm Bureau Family of the Year and competed in Oklahoma City for the state title. Both of them are active in community affairs and attend many of the area’s celebrations and parades and can be seen driving their classic Cadillac convertible.

The Kachels have three children — Connie, Stanley, and Lea Ann. Connie and Stan are OPSU graduates and Lea graduated from Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma. Connie and her husband, Phil White, live in Wichita, Kansas. Stan and his wife, Shari (Law), make their home in Hooker, Okla., where they have raised three sons: Brendan, Jarret, and Keaton. Lea and her husband, Mike Morgan, reside in Oklahoma City.