Virginia Lee (Katzung) Bartel was born Nov. 6, 1934, in Robertsville, Mo., and went to be with her Lord and Savior Aug. 17, 2017. She was the third of five children born to Albert and Alice (Wideman) Katzung. She was affectionately called "Ginny Lee or Gin" after a sweet lady that cared for her and her Mom after she was born.
Gin grew up in Washington, Mo., attending Hillsboro and Washington Grade School and later graduated from Washington High School. In her early days she loved to go with her Dad and brother Joe down to the creek to play and feed the horses and cattle.
When she was in the first grade, she already felt God calling her to be a nurse, and to achieve that goal she knew she would need to go to work to be able to attend nursing school. At the age of 13, she moved into a boarding house that was between the high school and the hospital because she would need to walk, and that would make it easier to work and attend school. She would work at the hospital from 6-8 a.m., attend school from 8:30-3:30 p.m. and then back to the hospital from 4-8 p.m.
Her support began with the nuns at the hospital, who recognized her passion to be a nurse and allowed her to work on all floors of the hospital to give her the experience she would need for nurse's training. With the help of her mother and her great Aunt Nina Zumwalt, that dream was finally made a reality when she was enrolled at the Missouri Baptist Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis, Mo. She graduated in July of 1955 as an RN.
It was during that time she met the love of her life, Carl E. Bartel. He was serving in the Army, working in a dental lab there in St. Louis. One evening, they were both attending a social event at the 3rd Baptist Church in St. Louis. Gin and a friend of hers were roller skating, and her friend, seeing a handsome young man across the room, told her, "There's someone you should meet," to which she replied, "well introduce me sometime." Her friend acted immediately and rolled her right into Carl.
They dated for two years until January of 1955 when they became engaged and then married Oct. 1, 1955, moving then to Fairview, Okla., after a short trip to the Ozarks.
After their marriage and move, Gin worked as a private duty and surgical nurse at St. Mary's Hospital in Enid, Okla. A year later, their oldest daughter Deborah Kay was born, and they moved to Pueblo, Colo., where Carl attended railroad school. While they lived in Pueblo, she worked as a staff nurse at the Pueblo Hospital. Six months later, Carl finished his training, they bought a trailer, and they moved to Harper, Kan. In Harper, Carl worked at railroad depots and a Redi Mix concrete plant, and Gin again worked as a private duty nurse. There they were blessed with their son, Chris Duane.
After four years, the family moved back to Fairview to the Pete Bartel home place and began farming. She worked alongside Carl in the field, driving truck at harvest, and went to town for parts or whatever else was needed. She loved farm life, where she had a big vegetable garden and lots of flowers. Some of her best memories were canning meat with her neighbor Eva Neufeld and having her beloved mother in law Bienna Bartel around to help with the canning and cleaning chickens.
Gin worked at the Fairview Hospital as director of nurses for two years after they returned to Fairview. It was during that time that she and Carl welcomed their third child and second daughter, Julie Ann. Five years later they moved from the farm into town, when Carl went into business with Harry Martens and started MaBar Inc.
She continued her work at the hospital and then at the Fairview Fellowship Home. At the Fellowship Home, she was honored by the board by working with the architect in designing the plans for the new dining room and kitchen that was to be added onto the east end. Those months she worked as their dietician and food supervisor. She attended the food service course at the Autry Vo-Tech in Enid with another co-worker, who later took over her duties so she could return to her first love, nursing. Gin went back to working the night shift there at the nursing home.
One memory of hers during that time was scrubbing and waxing hall floors at night with Albert Isaac, the janitor. What a sight! A nurse with very polished white shoes, white uniform dress and her nursing cap was helping scrub floors. In her history of being a nurse in Fairview she assisted in many of the deliveries of her friends and cousin's children. That was always a special joy to her and she helped many many people in her nursing career. It was a sad day to her when she retired from nursing due to illness.
Gin had a special ministry in the Fairview community and is known to many as "the Angel Lady." She gave out more than a hundred lighted glass angels over several years to different individuals who she felt needed to be reminded that God was there to take care of them by sending an angel to watch over them in whatever their situation was. She is remembered for being a "prayer warrior" for many of her family and friends. Her children and her grandchildren have always known that she was praying especially for them.
Another gift she had was writing, and during her lifetime, she spent countless hours writing letters to family members and friends to be able to stay in touch and encourage them. Some of the most favorite people in her life were her sister's Gladys and Ethel's girls. These nieces meant everything to her and they each have a special bond with their "Aunt Gin."
Living away from her Missouri family was very hard for Gin. She was very close to her mother and it was very hard on her when she lost her to cancer at a young age. Her fondest memories were often told to her children of her and her mother listening to "the Grand Ole Opry" by radio and dancing around the kitchen together to the music. That tradition was passed on with her children and then grandchildren. Country music was an important part of her life because it reminded her of her Missouri roots and it comforted her even in her last days as music was always on in her room.
One of her greatest joys was when her youngest brother Ken and his family decided to move to Fairview. Many happy days were spent in being together again. Until then her Bartel family was ever dear to her. She became very close to Carl's parents, brothers and sisters. Each one had a special place in her heart. She was an excellent cook and baked amazing pies and cinnamon rolls.
Her talents didn't stop there as she was an excellent seamstress and sewed many dresses through the years, including formals, a wedding dress for Debbie and dresses for the grandkids. She loved to serve her Lord through her nursing and being a Sunday school teacher at Harper, Kan., and also at the Fairview Mennonite Brethren Church where she was a member.
During the days she lived on 13th Street, she opened her home after school with her dear friends Lauretta Eitzen and Alvera Ratzlaff a "Good News Club" for grade school-aged children so they might learn to know her Jesus. In her last days she continued to be busy even though her body was failing her. She managed "the little store" at the Fellowship Home. She would organize the merchandise, tally points and be there to greet the residents when they came to purchase items.
She took great pride in everything she ever did and she always said, "if you're going to do something, do it right or don't do it at all." She leaves a wonderful legacy to her family and friends and will be greatly missed.
Gin is survived by her husband Carl Bartel, one son, Chris Bartel and wife Teena of Fairview, Okla., two daughters, Debbie Wiens and husband Doug of Fairview, and Julie Schmidt of Baton Rouge, La.; brothers, Joseph and Gert Katzung, Kenneth and Pauline Katzung, and William and Donna Katzung; sisters, Ethel Frye, Gladys and Harvey Twelker and Donna and Vic Vogelsang; grandchildren, Amanda Wiens, Sara and Austin Hurst, Matthew and Madelene Rogers, Emily Bartel, Zane Schmidt, and Tate and Leslie Schmidt; great-grandchildren, Emma and Ella Hurst, Rowyn and Lydia Rogers, and Alexis Schmidt. She was preceded in death by her parents.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, at the Fairview Mennonite Brethren Church with Pastor Marlin Hiett officiating. A private family inurnment will be held at a later date at the South Mennonite Brethren Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made through the Pierce Funeral Home to the Fairview Regional Medical Center for hospital equipment. Condolences may be made online at www.piercefuneralhomes.com.
Published on August 19, 2017