Milton John Hengel

Milton HengelMilton John Hengel passed away June 10, 2024, in Meridian, Idaho, just a month short of his 97th birthday. A private family service will be held on his birthday July 25, when he and his wife’s ashes will be joined at their favorite Oregon Beach.

Although Milt started out in the Navy, graduating from Great Lakes Naval Station, Illinois, in 1945, he later transitioned to the Army and was Commanding Officer of the Idaho Army National Guard in Bonners Ferry. He later served all of the services as United States Property & Finance Officer for the State of Idaho. He retired from the Army as a full Colonel with a Brevet (State) Promotion to Brigadier General.

In 1950, with his teaching credentials fresh in hand from the St. Cloud State Teachers College, Milt moved his little family of three from Minnesota to Idaho. His first teaching and coaching position was at Sandpoint High School for $2,400 — a year!

Milton HengelIn 1955, Milt moved his family from Sandpoint to Bonners Ferry where he first taught and coached at BFHS before becoming principal of Valley View. In 1966 he became principal of BFHS until 1968, when he moved his family to Moscow, where he was also principal. From there, his Army duties took him to Gowan Field, near Boise, and the first of two homes in Eagle.

Always an avid outdoorsman, Milt took his family hunting, fishing, hiking and camping all over Boundary County. He enjoyed rock and arrowhead hunting, especially with the love of his life, his wife Donna Mae, who preceded him in death in 1994. He tumbled, sliced and polished many agates. and especially in later years he often took Donna Mae to the Oregon beaches, beachcombing for agates, seashells and driftwood.

His daughter Mary Jo remembers, “The one thing, out of many, is my Father’s appreciation of the outdoors and of gardening. He always took a moment to drink in the beauty that surrounded him. I nicknamed him ‘One More Ridge’ because he always had to see what was over the next ridge.”

From Minnesota to Idaho, Milt certainly lived a fulfilling life: from his birth in 1927 and education in St. Cloud and Howard Lake, Minnesota, to Naval training in Illinois. From a submarine on the East Coast toward the end of World War II to his first teaching and coaching job in Sandpoint. From Bonners Ferry High School and Valley View Elementary School to spending two summers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for special training. From Moscow High School and a member of the IDARNG Battalion Staff to Eagle, Idaho, and his USPFO position at Gowan Field as a full bird Colonel, then managing buses for the Idaho Department of Education. Wow, what wonderful experiences Dad had!

Milton’s kids
Matt, Mary Jo, Bruce and Brian

One thought on “Milton John Hengel

  1. I always admired and respected “Mr. Hengel,” our principal. With men like him in education and military positions we were always in good hands. I only wish we had more men like him today. I must say I also liked him. He was tough, but fair. In my opinion, he was a very good and decent man. His presence on this Earth will be missed by those who knew and loved him. I am one of those people.

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