Cover photo for James R. Happel's Obituary
James R. Happel Profile Photo

James R. Happel

November 14, 1948 — December 19, 2023


James R. Happel

Jim passed away peacefully on Tuesday, December 19 from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. He was born in LaCrosse and graduated from Tomah High School, UW-LaCrosse, and UW-Oshkosh (MS) and was a proud member of Delta Sigma Phi.

He was a respected educator of advanced mathematics at Appleton West High School for 35 years. He was active in the Appleton Education Association and served in leadership positions of multiple committees. His dedication to the Appleton Community has been highly recognized with awards for the Appleton Area School District High School Educator of the Year, Appleton West Helble Outstanding Educator, Appleton Education Association Friend of Education, the Wisconsin Athletic Director Association’s Distinguished Service to High School Athletics and the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Outstanding Philanthropist. In 2012 the newly constructed athletic facilities at Appleton West was named the Happel Sports Complex.

Jim was a skilled golfer, avid walker, skat player and enthusiastic vegetable gardener. He traveled extensively in the United States and Western Europe and enjoyed working many hours on outside projects at their cottage on McCauslin Brook in Lakewood.

He is survived by his wife and best friend of 45 years Claudine Happel (Wetzel), siblings Douglas Happel (La Crosse), Cathy Staege (Kapolei, HI), nephew Mark Happel (Verona), niece Susan (Jared) Johnson (Chippewa Falls) and their families, sister-in-law Amy (Terry)Coughlin (Crandon), other relatives and numerous friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents Norm and Irene, a sister-in-law Nadine Happel, and a brother-in-law, Jim Staege.

Friends and relatives are invited to greet the family at the Wichmann Funeral Home, located at 537 N. Superior Street in Appleton, on Tuesday morning, December 26, 2023, from 10:00 AM until Noon.

Memorials to Appleton West High School, Feeding America, Appleton Historical Society or a charitable organization of your choice appreciated.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James R. Happel, please visit our flower store.

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