Howard Wikel Passes Away

March 20, 2013

A Michigan letter winner in football and baseball, Howard Wikel was one of U-M's best friends. Howard really didn't know every person in Ann Arbor. But as legendary University of Michigan Football Coach Bo Schembechler was quick to say: "Anyone from Ann Arbor who says they don't know Howard Wikel must be living in a cave." Bo was one of Howard's best friends. In fact, he was a trusted friend to everyone in the football program and the entire athletic department for the last 70 years. The entire university is saddened at his loss. Wikel, 89, passed away peacefully March 10 at his Ann Arbor home. "They ought to name an award after Howard," said Jim Conley, captain of the 1965 Rose Bowl team. "That's how much he meant to all of us."

Wikel was a giver.

One of those guys who thoroughly enjoyed doing favors for others long before doing something for himself. "If someone was fortunate enough to meet Howard Wikel and spend an hour with him, you became his friend for life. He invented networking, long before computers were invented," Conley said. "Howard, my adopted father, taught me and everyone he touched the art of giving, laughing, happiness, leadership and success - and all came from his heart,", says Bob Gray, MVP of the 1964 NCAA Final Four Hockey Tournament.

Athletes were always looking to earn money through summer jobs before the upcoming season began. Being the entrepreneur that he was, Howard, Dan Dierdorf and Pete Newell established a painting company to provide summer employment opportunities for Michigan athletes. Many of them were hired as painters. And Wikel provided the customers, too.

"I remember one summer when we painted ten houses," said Dan Dierdorf, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the National Football League Hall of Fame. "

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