Richard "Dick" Earl Reel, 74, of La Porte, passed away on Sunday, February 13, 2022 at Franciscan Health Crown Point.
Dick was born on August 18, 1947 in Vincennes, IN, to Morris and Katherine A. (McCraken) Reel.
On April 28, 1990 in La Porte, he married Mary Beth Welch who survives. Also surviving are his daughter Kristin (Matt) Gerber of Fishers; 2 grandsons, Evan and Grant Gerber of Fishers; sister in law, Emily Reel of VA; and nephews, Andy (Liz) Reel and Adam (Erin) Reel both of VA.
He was preceded by his parents and brother, Robert Reel.
Dick retired from the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service in 2003 after 33 years working in three different counties. He started in Kosiusko County in 1970, but was called to serve his country in the Army for 2 years. Upon his return, he went to Noble County until 1976 when he then moved to La Porte County. In 1998, his responsibilities switched from 4-H to Leadership Community Development Office Manager.
Dick had many growth opportunities at the state level serving as Youth Educator. He held stated positions of State President and served on many state committees. In 1989, Dick became National President of the 1200 members of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents. When he switched positions on the county level to Leadership Community Development, he served one year as President of the newly formed Leadership Community Development section of the Indiana Extension Educators Association. As a member of the Indiana Extension Agents Association, he also served on the Conference Committee for 5 years and as a Chairman for 1 year.
Using his knowledge gained from the State Fair Pioneer Village, Dick developed the Pioneer Land at the La Porte County Fairgrounds. This project, which began in 1995, now has 13 buildings with 130 volunteers operating the village during the fair. Dick, himself, demonstrated the old tools and methods used in woodworking, within the village.
Dick was a member of Epsilon Sigma Phi Professional Extension organization for 33 years. Nationally, he served as North Central Director for the NAE4-HA from 1984 to 1986, National Board from 1987 to 1990 and National President in 1989.
Locally, Dick served on the Swanson Center Mental Health Board, County Park Board, Leadership La Porte County Board, Solid Waste Citizens Advisory Board, Planning and Zoning Board, Fair Pioneer Land Chairman for Educational Programs, and Fair Pioneer Land Secretary Development Committee. He was a member of Kiwanis. Dick successfully wrote grants for buildings and worked on committees who have raised over a quarter of a million dollars for the development of 13 buildings in Pioneer Land.
Dick generously gave of himself to the La Porte County community and 4-H family. His dedication will be remembered by generations who have visited Pioneer Land.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, February 18, 2022 at Cutler Funeral Home and Cremation Center with Pastor Bob Vale officiating. Burial will follow at Pine Lake Cemetery.
A time of visitation will be held from 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 17, 2022 at Cutler Funeral Home and Cremation Center and from 10:00 a.m. until the time of the service on Friday at the funeral home.
Memorial donations may be made to First United Methodist Church, 1225 Michigan Ave., La Porte, IN 46350 or the soon to be created Pioneer Log Cabin Endowment c/o Mary Beth Reel, 2900 Monroe St., La Porte, IN 46350.
Condolences may be shared with the family on www.cutlercares.com.