Joseph Bartel Michel - Morris Nilsen Funeral Chapel

October 4, 1933 - April 18, 2023

Joseph was born in Lazarfeld, Banat, Yugoslavia in 1933 to Josef Michel and Marianne Bartel. His childhood years in Yugoslavia were disrupted by the invasion of the Russians and was forced into a concentration camp (Rudolfsgrad) with his mother. During this time, his biological mother and father died. Through a series of events, Joseph found his way to the United States in 1948 and was eventually adopted by John W. and Marion Michel of Monrovia, CA. Upon graduation at Monrovia High School in 1952, he received his Bachelor of Arts (1956) from Northwest Nazarene College (Nampa, ID) and a Master of Natural Sciences from State University of South Dakota (1963). Joseph "Joe" met Joy A. Tink while at Northwest Nazarene College and they married in August 1957 and eventually settled their home in Bloomington, MN. Joe began and ended his career as a teacher at Richfield High School teaching Biology, Physiology and working with gifted/ talented students. He also coached tennis and other extracurricular activities. His summer months were full of research and writing curriculum with the intention to keep educating himself for the betterment of his students. Joe and Joy were actively involved in the Minneapolis Church of the Nazarene and at Colonial Church of Edina (now The Meetinghouse) touching many through the gift of music and teaching. Joe moved into Riley Crossing Senior Living Center (Chanhassen) upon Joy’s death where he enjoyed the friendship of many. The joy of his life during this season was to read books, have lunch and interact with the intergenerational preschool at Riley Crossing. Survived by his children, Renee (John) Herman, Dana (Greg) Ohnsorg, Dan (Ivy) Michel and Debra (Kent) Kirby; grandchildren, Brad (Rachael) Herman, Janelle (Brad) Kujath, Brian (Shelley) Ohnsorg, Monica Ohnsorg, Aidan Michel, Aldan Michel, Ainsly Michel, Aubry Michel, Hannah (Tyler) Underdown and Rachel Kirby, great-grandchildren, Dakota, Phoenix, and Lincoln Herman, Briar and Keegan Kujath, Emily, Sophia, and Samuel Ohnsorg, Austin and Camden Underdown.
Preceded in death by spouse, Joy (Tink) Michel; grandsons, Mark Ohnsorg and Kyle Kirby.


  1. Don Houlding says:

    Thank you for all you gave your students. You made a difference in countless lives. May you rest in peace in God’s loving arms.

  2. Linda (Hall) Heath says:

    He was the best teacher. He took time with me and I had some special projects. Prayers for the family.

  3. Deb (Nesheim) Lund (RHS Class of 1979) says:

    Mr. Michael was truly the best teacher I ever had in High School. He taught with such heart and dedication to his students and I have often thought of him with fondness throughout the years.

  4. Gary Wood says:

    Mr. Michel was one of the best teachers I ever had. I’m sure hundreds of other RHS students would say the same. I made my career as a biochemist and university professor thanks to him. To his family: Thanks for sharing him with us for all those years.

  5. Robert Bishop says:

    I greatly enjoyed Mr Michel’s biology classes at Richfield. He was an outstanding teacher and an extraordinary human being. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Bob Bishop RHS ‘65

  6. Eileen Reuss says:

    I’m very sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Michel. He was a very kind teacher. He supervised me when I did an independent study project in 1986.

  7. Molly Marchessault says:

    He was an endearing teacher. Condolences.

  8. Jacqueline Preusse says:

    Mr Michael was one of the most fantastic teachers I ever had. He was kind and had a passion for his subject. When I went to college my first biology class was just a poor repeat of his class.

    He befriended my son when he took classes from him and offered to help him with his German class. He reached out to him after he graduated and they would meet for coffee. He was a wonderful influence in our son

    The world has lost a wonderful person and I am so grateful he was in my life.

    • Debbie (nee Rasinski) Class of 1982 says:

      Mr Michel was a great inspiration to me. Such a brilliant and kind teacher. I remember him saying, “Somebody knew what He was doing when He put the human body together.”

  9. Brenda (Swanson) Fraatz says:

    Both Joe and Joy made an impact on my life. They were good Christian role models as spouses, as parents, and as prominent members of the church we attended. They were both talented: Joy with her music (she played at my wedding) and Joe as a teacher and speaker (he recited a poem at my wedding). Being in the same age group as their children, I got a good look at their family life. I always felt welcome in their home. I remember Joe sharing his story of being a child when the Nazi’s were terrorizing Europe. When my parents passed, and I was going through their things, I found a tape recording of Joe telling his story. I could not bring myself to get rid of it. I feel it was a privilege to know them, and I take comfort in knowing that they are reunited in Heaven. I pray for comfort & peace for the family as they grieve.

  10. Kim Houlding says:

    Thank you Mr Michel for guiding and inspiring me. It certainly affected my life! My deepest sympathies to your family, friends and students. You are a special person, now wrapped in the loving arms of God.

  11. Craig Fennig says:

    REST in Peace … My Friend Life is Good & Moving On is what WE All do

    ALL My Sympathys & Regards to His Family & Friends. C F Fennig

  12. “Mr. Michel”, as I knew him from my time at Richfield HS, made a huge difference in my life. He suggested to me the possibility of doing research with another student’s (Carolyn Crankshaw) dad (Daune Crankshaw) at the VA hospital. I said OK yeah, that sound interesting — and with some guidance from him that began. Such a modest interaction, but with such major effects as it gave me (1) a leg up on understanding how science really works, (2) additional experience with other adults in a totally different setting, (3) a significant boost in self-confidence from having had these experiences, and (4) a summer and winter break job (continuing research at the VA) during my first year in college. I am also deeply indebted to Dr. Crankshaw for his supervision and support. In recent years, I have increased my appreciation for Mr. Michel’s care and support back in about 1982, and I regret not having been able to follow up recently to thank him. I remember him as kind and generous with his time, and very thoughtful wrt helping students set and pursue higher goals.

  13. Shirley Hart David says:

    Mr. Michel was my Biology I teacher at Richfield High School in 1964-1965. To this day I think about the biology experiments; dissecting a frog and breeding fruit flies to test hypotheses. He was a great teacher.

    Like most teachers, the students do not have any idea of the teacher’s life outside of school. That Mr. Michel came to the U.S. as a child after his parents died during the war and he was in a Russian concentration camp was never shared. I am awed by his ability to catch up with his education while overcoming the trauma of war and losing his parents. Then he taught and inspired generations of students.

    May he rest in peace and God’s love.

  14. Jodi says:

    Mr Micheal was an amazing teacher. So sorry for your loss.

  15. Diane Langhoff Jackson says:

    Mr. Michel was the best teacher I ever had! He was so patient and kind. I am from the Class of 1972 at RHS. Thank you Mr Michel for the memories that endure from a happy part of high school! You will be missed by many.

  16. Karianne Kopesky Kalina says:

    I got to know Mr. Michels on a personal level when his wife Joy and my grandma were in the same nursing home. We were always there same time everyday! We still would meet up with the “nursing home bunch” all the spouces we got to know..and go to lunch. My dad Rodell was very good friends with Joe. Such a generally caring guy! He will be missed!

  17. Sarah Pallas says:

    He was the best. He inspired me to become a Biology Professor.

  18. Lisa Kline Lund says:

    I’ve never forgotten the first day of class when Mr. Michel went very deliberately from student to student, introduced himself, asked our name, and gave each one of us a firm handshake. That level of respect from an adult authority figure was remarkable. Mr. Michel’s confidence in me and his enthusiasm for science are what led me to think I too could be a scientist. And he did this for so many kids. Thanks, Joe Michel, for seeing the potential in all of us.

  19. Jennifer Nelson (Mickelburg) says:

    Mr. Michels was my favorite teacher and he and his wife would come visit me at Byerlys when I was a server there. He would help me with leaning anatomy and told me I was a creative writer. He encouraged my swimming but not my interests in drama club and would tell us, “alcohol is a human specific poison.” He made me feel seen, challenged in the right ways, and I loved him like a father figure.

    • Janet Mickelburg says:

      I remember how much he meant to you and how encouraging he was. Such a very special teacher and human being.
      I don’t think he will ever be forgotten and always be remembered with love and so many fond memories.

  20. Patricia Scheidler Anderson says:

    Mr. Michel was the epitome of a great teacher and wonderful human being!!! You are so to so many as a “ favorite teacher!!” RIP

  21. Bruce Hermansen says:

    I came to know “Mr Michel” as my tennis coach. His positive outlook, support, encouragement and gentle humor led me to recognize him as one of the most influential adults in my growing years. I remember him trying to connect me with a fellow female student who is a fantastic person. I was too inept and scared to follow that piece of advice, but the spirit intended was much appreciated. This, of course, was who he was to so, so many students and others through his years, caring, encouraging and supportive. I was delighted to connect again with his positive, smiling energy in recent years and try to share appreciation for his wonderful support to me and so many. He helped me become a better person, as he did for so many. One of many of God’s gifts to our world. Much gratefulness. smiles and peace.

  22. Jay Marsh, class of 65 says:

    Joe was my tennis coach. He put up with our youthful shenanigans with good humor. He worked hard to be a good coach and mentor. He was a good friend for these many years. I’ll miss talking with him.

  23. Bill Stark says:

    I first met Coach Michel when I was 11 and he encouraged me a lot in my tennis. It was a privilege to have him as a tennis coach in high school, and I stayed in touch with him throughout my life. He always cared for me and my family. He was a great man with an amazing story.

  24. Mike & Karen Harwerth says:

    We knew Joe was an exceptional man and reading all these tributes from everyone surely solidifies that fact. We only knew Joe for the past 4 years, but what a joy and privilege it has been. He was the resident that everyone loved at Riley Crossing. The little ones all flocked to “Grandfriend Joe”. He was always eager to learn or try new things. He never complained even when he was in pain. He loved being with people and valued their presence – truly a listener and delightful conversationalist! We all loved his “booming” singing voice! Your absence is felt deeply by many Joe. Rest in peace.

  25. sean Lissarrague says:

    I was a student of his in 1989 10th grade biology and 1991 12th grade anatomy and physiology. He was an incredible teacher but most of all he cared deeply for his students. Many times i was depressed at that age and he would sense it and encouraged me often. I remember him encouraging me saying the verse Phillipians 4:13 “i can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Knowing everything he went through in life he practiced what he believed to the very end.

  26. Gordon Blair says:

    Dear Michael family, “Uncle Joe” always liked to talk about you. Each one of you he considered a very special gift from God. I found he liked to be joined when doing daily tasks, especially eating meals. He would go through the list of you, bringing out your importance. Your mom’s name is the trigger to the verses of the bible that will always remind me of your dad. James 1:2-4 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing the word of Christ. Romans 4:20,21 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able to perform.

  27. Donovan Klausen says:

    Dear Renae, Dana, Dan & Debbie, your spouses & children, relatives, former students, fellow educators & friends. Today, the 10th day of June 2023 we gather to remember the life & legacy of Joseph Bartel Michel.

    Joe was gifted w/ a sensitivity to your needs & needs of those placed in his path during his 89 years on this earth. He dedicated is life in service to his Lord, wife & to you who are in attendance here today. Most of these 89 years, he bore “the thorn in his flesh” with perseverance.

    Joseph was a man who loved the word kept his eyes focused on Jesus day and night.

    “Blessed is the one who delights in the law of the Lord and mediates on His law day and night. Such a person is like a tree planted near streams of water, which bears fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. Everything they do will prosper.”

    Such a person was Joseph Bartel, who prospered in humbleness, honor & respect from all he did in his coming & goings.

    As Joseph is ushered into the throne room of the lord God, I can hear Him speaking these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.

    I will miss our many conversations in & out of the classroom.

  28. John Jarvis says:

    I was privileged to have Mr. Michel for Biology when I was a student at Richfield High School, class of 68. He gave me a love for Biology that has led me to where I am today, a licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer in SC. I can not say enough good about this man. Rest in Peace my friend, till me meet again.

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