INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Throughout his nearly 95 years of life, William "Bill" Redel had a number of titles: Marine, intelligence officer, firm consultant, professor, poet, friend, husband, father, brother, uncle and grandfather.
Friend Jim Mullaney highlighted Redel's multifaceted life Monday afternoon at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, where many family, friends, colleagues, students and locals gathered to pay their respect and share memories of the late Incline resident.
"He was a man whom duty, honor, country was not simply a phrase, but a creed by which to live his life," Mullaney recalled about Redel, who died on Dec. 3, just 10 days before his 95th birthday.
Redel joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943,
fighting in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War - where he served six tours in the late 1960s - before retiring from military life with numerous decorations and awards in 1977.
In honor of Redel's more than 30 years of service, a two-jet flyover by Marine Corps pilots from Miramar, Calif., opened the memorial service on Monday.
"So Bill's now retired, he's ready to go back to the Big Island (of Hawaii, where he and his wife, Theresa, own a ranch) and lead the life of leisure, right?" Mullaney asked, with Redel's impending retirement in the late 1970s becoming an ongoing lighthearted joke during his speech, issuing laughs from the crowd. "Well, not quite."
For three years during the 1980s, Redel was a consultant to an engineering firm, which was doing work in China to help shore up coal mines there after many mining accidents.
"In his usual inquisitive way, Uncle Bill would always ask us, 'How's work? How are things at work?'" said Margaret Levy, Redel's niece. "And after any one of us would answer, he'd say, 'So what's next for you? You're not going to stay there forever. What's next?'
"Clearly in his mind, one career was nowhere near enough for one life. There's more to do, more to learn and other things to accomplish."
While in the Marine Corps Reserve, Redel returned to Minnesota, his birth place, in 1946 where he completed his bachelor's degree in political science and master's degree in international law, both from the University of Minnesota. He later went on to earn a doctorate degree in international relations from Columbia Pacific University in 1987.
During that time, Redel started his new career as an educator, teaching at institutions such as the U.S. Navy Post-Graduate School, St. Mary's College in Moraga, Calif., and locally at Sierra Nevada College after moving to Incline Village with Theresa Redel in 1989. The courses he taught at SNC included international law, international relations, modern China and classes on indigenous people, Mullaney said.
"You were one of the rocks, you were one of the foundations of what made that college (SNC) what it is today," said friend and colleague Lane Murray, whose voice broke during the beginning of her speech.
While at SNC, Redel founded the college's United Nations chapter, created an International Studies major and the Native American and World's Indigenous People Studies concentration, and established several full scholarships for Native Americans to attend the school.
Mullaney described Redel as a "deeply spiritual man" who developed "his passion and respect for our Native American peoples, their history, culture, spirituality and diversity" back in his birth place.
Redel was born in Minneapolis on Dec. 13, 1917, to a businessman father and a mother, who later went on managed a hotel resort on a Chippewa Indian reservation in Northern Michigan.
"What was so wonderful about Bill was he had strong passion and feelings without prejudice," said friend Barbara Perlman-Whyman. "He was open. He was open to new things. He was open to taking risks, and he was special."
Redel had a love for animals, particularly dogs and wolves, enjoyed playing the piano and having deep discussions, and was an award-winning poet.
Two of Redel's poems were read during the service, but the most emotional moment, causing several in the audience to dab their eyes, came at the end, during a 21-gun salute and flag folding ceremony conducted by Marines. The folded flag was then presented to his daughter, Kristin Oishi.
Redel is predeceased by his wife, Theresa, and dogs Buddy and Bunky. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Kristin and Colin Oishi; granddaughters Nicole Oishi and Larissa (Daniel) Emerson; great granddaughters Chloe, Charlie and Piper; and nieces Mary (Gordon) McChesney and Margaret (Michael) Levy.
"Uncle Bill, we will miss you tremendously, but it's OK, you've done enough," McChesney said. "We love you."