Major General (Retired) Jack Strukel Jr., 89, of Topeka, passed away Thursday, September 16, 2021.
He was born September 20, 1931, in Arma, Kansas, the son of Jack and Rose (Marshall) Strukel. After graduating from Arma High School, Jack attended Pittsburg State University (PSU) where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Education, a Master’s Degree in School Administration and an Education Specialist Degree in Administration. He proudly served in the United States Air Force and United States Army. Jack attended many military schools such as Artillery Basic, Infantry Basic and Advanced, Armor Advanced, Command and General Staff, and the Army War College as a Commissioned Officer.
Over his long career in education, he was a teacher, coach, principal and central office administrator. He was a principle for East Topeka and Holliday Junior High Schools and Chase Middle School. Jack was promoted to General Director of Central Services for the USD 501 school district and retired in 1991. Prior to his career with the Topeka USD 501 school district, Jack worked for the Girard, Kansas school district as a Teacher, Coach, and Assistant High School Principal. He was inducted into the Cockerill/Foxtown- Union Schools Association Hall of Praise in 2009 and was the President of the Cockerill School Alumni Association from 1992-2010.
He was the Outstanding National PSU Topeka Chapter President in 2002, a member of the PSU Endowment for Excellence in Athletics and served on the Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity House Construction and Finance Committee from 2006-2009.
Jack was elected Mayor of Girard, Kansas in 1965 and 1968.
He was a member of the East Topeka United Methodist Church, of Topeka until the church’s closing in 2012. Jack also was a member of the Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Girard, Kansas, a life member of the Fort Scott Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, and the Topeka Shrine Temple.
Jack was an active member of various military groups throughout his life. He served on the Department of Defense Study Committees relating to select Military issues in Norway, Switzerland, and Israel, the U.S. Army Reserve Forces Policy Board, and the Department of Defense Reserve Forces Policy Board. Jack was also a past Chairman for the DOD Reserve Forces Policy Board on the Mobilization and Training Committee. He was a member, often serving in leadership positions, in the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, the Combat Infantry Association (Kansas Chapter), U.S. Armor Association, National Infantry Association, U.S. Field Artillery Association, and the Association of the United States Army. He served as State President of the Kansas National Guard Association, Chapter Commander of the Reserve Officers Association (now the Military Officers Association of America, or MOAA), President of the KAW Valley Chapter of The Retired Officers Association (2003-2004), Commander of the “Military Order Of World Wars” (MOWW) for Kansas and the Topeka Chapter #86, Co-Chair for the Great Overland Station All Veterans Memorial Committee (2003-2007) and Emeritus Chairman (2007-present), Vice President (2003-2008) and President (2008-2009) for the 35th Division Association, Chairman of the Division Association Museum Construction Project at Forbes Field (2005-present) and the Committee Chairman for memorials, monuments, and plaques for the National MOWW.
Jack was a true citizen solider. Among his many awards, he received Honorary Titles from the Governors of Kentucky, Nebraska, and Arkansas, was a recipient of the Kansas National Guard Association Distinguished Service Medal and recipient of the “Order of St. George Medal” in bronze and silver from the Armor Association. Other awards Jack received include two U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medals, Combat Infantry Badge (Vietnam), Department of Defense Staff Identification Badge, the “St. Maurice Award (Primicerius Level) in 2007, and a bronze and silver MOWW “Patrick Henry Awards” Medallion. He was appointed the Honorary Regimental Colonel of the 635th Armor Regiment (1992-2006) and was inducted into the 35th Division Association Hall of Fame on October 2, 2011.
He served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans (IMA), Department of Army, at the Pentagon from 1988-1989. Jack also served as Commanding General of the Kansas Army National Guard 69th Infantry Brigade (1981-1984), as Commanding General of the 89th Army Reserve Command (1984-1988) and retired in 1991 as after serving as the Commanding General of the 122nd Army Reserve Command of Little Rock, Arkansas. Jack also was the Commanding Officer for 132nd Ordinance Company (1965-1967), Company A, 3rd Battalion 137th Infantry (company command 1967-1968 and battalion command 1973-1976), 1st Battalion 635th Armor Battalion (1976-1977), and served in various staff roles (S-1, S-2, and S-3 Officer) for the 69th Separate Infantry Brigade and Troop Command for the Kansas Army National Guard (1978-1980). During Vietnam, he served as the Battalion Adjutant of the 1st Battalion 508th Infantry Regiment 82nd Airborne Division, the 3rd Brigade Assistant S-3 for Plans and Training of the 82nd Airborne Division, and the Battalion Executive Officer of the 1st Battalion 505th Infantry Regiment 82nd Airborne Division.
Jack married Janet Gayle Holmes on September 2, 1956 at the First United Methodist Church in Pittsburg, Kansas. She preceded him in death on October 18, 2019 after 63 years of marriage.
He dedicated his life in service to his community and his country, but what he loved the most was spending time with his family, being outdoors and enjoying nature, and giving advice to those he loved. He was passionate about the local sports teams and was grateful to witness championships for the Royals and Chiefs over the past few years.
Survivors include his children, Jack (Elizabeth Hoffman) Edward Strukel, Steven (Debra) Eastwood Strukel, daughter Robyn Lynn Pilcher; eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, William Strukel; and grandson, Erik Pilcher. The family takes comfort knowing he is reunited with his wife Janet Gayle, whom he has missed so much over the past two years.
Honoring Jack’s wishes, cremation is planned. A memorial ceremony will be held at Leavenworth National Cemetery, 150 Muncie Rd, Leavenworth, KS 66048 on Monday, October 18th at 10 am. Memorial contributions may be made to Alzheimer's Research Association, 22512 Gateway Center Drive, Clarksburg, MD 20871 or the Kansas National Guard Museum Fund, 125 SE Airport East Drive, Topeka, Kansas 66619.
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