Spencer Fickel died on June 5 in Gunnison.
Born near Chanute, Kan., on May 4, 1940, to Leo F. and Ella Beth (Nichols) Fickel, Spencer lived the life of a farm boy with his sister and brothers. He began his education in a one-room schoolhouse and later graduated from Chanute High School. Spencer completed his undergraduate degree at Pittsburgh (KS) State College. Shortly thereafter he moved to Hill City, Kan., working as a social worker.
On Oct. 15, 1966, he married the love of his life, Arlene Dinkel, and they settled in Hays, Kan., where they started a family. Spencer earned a master’s degree in counseling from Fort Hays State University and began his mental health counseling career at the High Plains Mental Health Center.
In 1972, the young family moved to Maine. Spencer provided counseling through Tri-County Mental Health Services, traveling to see clients in Jay, Farmington, Rangeley, and beyond. On the weekends, the family explored New England: the lakes of northern Maine, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the lighthouses of the coast.
Lured west by colleagues who had been in Hays, the family moved to Gunnison in 1979 and Spencer began a long and distinguished career at the Center for Mental Health. He counseled many people of all walks of life at the Center—the building on North Taylor St. was dedicated to him in 2004—and also at the college, hospital, jail, courthouse, and wherever people needed help. After leaving the Center in 2010, he continued his work at his private practice, New Design Life Coaching.
He is survived by his wife, Arlene; son Jason Fickel and daughter-in-law Constance Furey, of Bloomington, Ind.; granddaughter Veronica Fickel, of Burlington, Vt.; and his daughter Gretchen Parker, son-in-law Felix Parker, and granddaughter Tasiana Parker, of Aurora, Colo. He is also survived by his brothers Mike Fickel and wife Mary Lou; Roger Fickel and wife LaVeta; Doug Fickel; brother-in-law Therean Towns; and many beloved nieces, nephews, and wonderful friends. His parents, sister Mary Towns, and sister-in-law Karen Fickel predeceased him.
A funeral mass will be held at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Gunnison today, June 13, at 10:30 a.m. The family asks that memorial contributions be made in Spencer's memory to the Gunnison Country Food Pantry or St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
In addition to being an exceptional husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Spencer Fickel was a gifted gardener, writer, artist, noisemaker, and storyteller with a tremendous and unique sense of humor.
The plaque at the Center for Mental Health reads:
This building dedicated to:
Spencer Fickel, MS, LPC
counselor, mentor, healer
for the wisdom, peace and
laughter he has brought
to thousands of people in his
of service in Gunnison.