ALLOUEZ — Fr. Bill Stengel, former newspaper editor and Crivitz pastor, died May 17 at the age of 92.
Fr. Stengel was born in Suring, the fourth of five children, to Robert Martin and Charlotte (Peters) Stengel. He had fond memories of the family business, Stengel’s Grocery and Ice Cream.
Following high school, Fr. Stengel attended one year at St. Norbert College, De Pere, before transferring to St. Francis Seminary, near Milwaukee. He then studied theology at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Stanislaus Bona on June 1, 1957, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay.
Fr. Stengel’s first appointment was assistant pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Luxemburg. At the same time, he was appointed associate editor of the Green Bay Register, (predecessor to The Compass) a ministry that he would continue to be involved with until 1972. He also served as assistant pastor at St. Agnes, Holy Martyrs of Gorcum and St. Patrick parishes, all in Green Bay.
From 1962 to 1967, Fr. Stengel served as temporary administrator of St. Mary Parish, Brillion, and then St. Patrick Parish, Askeaton, followed by an appointment as assistant pastor of St. Jude Parish, Green Bay.
In 1966, Fr. Stengel was appointed editor of the Green Bay Register. While serving as editor, he served as temporary administrator of St. Sebastian Parish, Isaar.
Newspaper work was never in the plans for Fr. Stengel.
“I was shocked. I did not have any newspaper experience,” he said in a 2017 interview with The Compass for his 60-year jubilee. “I really did not expect it because I had not gone to school for it. Fr. (Orville) Janssen (the original editor) turned out to be a good teacher. I worked 10 years for him.
“The Register was just seven months old when I started (in 1957),” he added. “I was with the paper for 16 years. I always had a parish because I had to lay my head somewhere.”
Among his highlights working on the newspaper was publishing an edition in 1968 to commemorate the centennial of the diocese. Fr. Stengel took 300 aerial photos while kneeling on the rear double seat of a Cessna 172 aircraft. The photos included churches and other diocesan institutions packaged in a 72-page newsprint album.
Following a brief stint as co-pastor of St. John Parish, Menasha, Fr. Stengel was appointed pastor of St. Mary Parish, Crivitz, in 1973 and served until 1979. His final appointment was chaplain of St. Vincent Hospital, Green Bay. He retired in 1998, and then served as a priest celebrant of SS. Joseph and Edward Parish, Walsh, from 2005 to 2015.
Fr. Stengel called Crivitz home in retirement. He built a house on a 5.5 acre property in the area and did the landscaping, one of his favorite hobbies. Fr. Stengel also designed the Knights of Columbus Memorial in Crivitz. He served as chaplain for Knights of Columbus Council #4671 for 30 years.
Reception of the body will take place at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 22, at Mary Church in Crivitz. Visitation will follow and continue until 6 p.m. With concerns for the coronavirus, all visitations will be limited to 10 people at a time in the church with others waiting outside while all observing social distancing and proper sanitization. Following visitation, a prayer service will be held, again limited to 10 people.
Visitation will continue at St. Mary Church on Saturday, May 23, 2020, from 10 to 11 a.m., again limited to 10 people at a time. The funeral Mass will follow visitation at 11 a.m. with Bishop David Ricken as the celebrant and Msgr. James Kaczmarek of the Diocese of Marquette, Mich., serving as homilist.
Attendance at the funeral Mass will be limited to 10 persons, but the burial afterwards in St. Michael Cemetery, Suring, is open to all who would like to attend while observing social distancing.