Wilbert (Bert) Ruben Handel passed away quietly on April 5 2016, looking forward to being reunited with his Sunshine, Emma. Mr. Handel was born July 28, 1921 in Menno, Hutchinson County, South Dakota to John F. Handel and Emelia Neuharth Handel. His family farmed wheat, corn and oats south of Menno, South Dakota. The family moved to Lodi in 1935 after the death of his father. He graduated from Lodi Union High School in 1939 and later took Business courses at Forkners’ Business College in Stockton. In 1941 he was hired by the federal government to work at the Port of Stockton as a warehouse supervisor. He helped train women to operate forklifts when women were hired to replace men that had gone into the service. During that time German POW’s were housed in a stockade at the Port and used to help with warehouse duties. Bert was called upon to act as a German interpreter. Over the years, he worked for Railway Express Co., Sharpe Army Depot, Cloverleaf Milk Co. and Daisy Bread Co. On June 20, 1942, Wilbert married Emma Christina Brenner at the Lodi Baptist Church. The couple met when Miss Brenner's aunt suggested she meet the boy next door who was sitting on his front veranda playing the guitar. In 1945, Bert and Emma moved to Stockton. In 1961, Bert was hired as a delivery driver for the owners of Quality Cleaners. He and Emma eventually became the owners and added the Country Club Cleaners. They retired in 1993.
Bert is remembered for his love of music. During his lifetime, he played accordion, guitar and piano. His family remembers jam sessions held at the house with their father’s friends. He had a sense of humor and was very much a people person. While working as a delivery driver, he tried to always leave his customers with a smile on their face.
Bert Handel has been a member of Mayfair Christian Church for over 20 years where he served as an elder, deacon and trustee. He sang in the church choir and he and his wife often sang duets. He was previously a member of Eastside Presbyterian Church for over 36 years where he served as an elder and deacon. He and his wife were responsible for a Junior Church for many years. Mr. Handel and his wife were members of the Band of Friends, a local senior citizens band that entertained at hospitals and retirement communities. They were known for their favorite duet, You Are My Sunshine.
Mr. Handel is survived by daughters Maureen (Robert) Carr of Aptos, CA and Karen (Steve) Tucker of Coquille, OR; sons Stephen (Romelia) Handel of Stockton, CA and Ronald (Katie) Handel of Valley Springs, CA; his grandchildren Michelle Carr (Logan Frahm) of Capitola, CA, Julie (Bejay Strout) Carr of Aptos, CA, Tricia (James) Fosdick of Soulsbyville, CA, Jennifer (Paul) Yankey of Merced, CA, Stephen (Andrea) Handel II of Sacramento, CA, Krista (Rick) Maxwell of Merced, CA; Ronald (Gina) Handel, Jr. of Stockton, CA and Amy (Brad) Sieffert of Stockton, CA, as well as 18 great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his wife of 68 years, Emma Christina Handel; sisters Ella Wittmeier, Adillia List, Anna DeJong, Gertrude Babitzke and brother Ewald Handel.
Funeral services will take place at 1:00 pm on Monday, April 11, 2016 at the Evergreen Chapel at Cherokee Memorial Park, Hwy 99 and Harney Ln, Lodi.
Visitation will take place from 1-6 PM on Sunday, April 10, 2016 at Cherokee Memorial Funeral Home 831 Industrial Way, Lodi.
Memorial Contributions may be made to Hospice of San Joaquin, 3888 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95204.