Services have been announced for Dan Hinkel, a fixture at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania for more than a half-century -- with two stints as head wrestling coach -- who died Sunday. He was 85.
Visitation will be held Wednesday, Oct. 5, from 5 - 8:30 p.m. at the Hildenbrand Funeral Home, 346 W. Main St., Kutztown. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 2 p.m. at the Grace Evangelical Congregational Church, 421 W Main St., Kutztown. Messages of sympathy can be sent to his wife, Lois, at 419 Baldy Road, Kutztown, PA 19530. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Daniel J. Hinkel Family Scholarship Fund c/o Kutztown University Foundation, 15197 Kutztown Road, Kutztown, PA 19530.
"Hinkel was an integral figure in Kutztown wrestling history," according to the school's statement on his passing. He had been associated with Kutztown University since 1964, when he helped reinstate the wrestling program, which had been dormant since before World War II. Hinkel served as head coach twice -- first from 1965 to 1972, then from 1989 to 1996 -- building a career record of 124-83-6.
He was 45-43-4 in his first stint as coach, but found even greater success in his second time at the helm, going 79-40-2, with top-five finishes at the NCAA Division II Regionals in five consecutive seasons, from 1992 to 1996.
Hinkel stepped down as head coach in 1996, but remained an active member of the coaching staff. He also served as chair and professor of secondary education at Kutztown.
Current Kutztown head wrestling coach Robert Fisher had fond memories of coach Hinkel.
"Dan was a part of my life for more than 25 years -- every match, every practice, Dan was there," said Fisher. "You don't realize how much a person means to you until they're gone. Dan committed his life to Kutztown University. He worked with every wrestler that came through our program the last 50 years -- it is amazing to sit back and fathom how many lives he has touched. He not only leaves his mark on the program here at Kutztown, but on the entire wrestling community."
Tom Elling, an NCAA All-American for Lock Haven and author of "PA Wrestling Handbook" who now shares his insights into the sport in the Keystone State with his Pennsylvania Wrestling website http://pawrsl.com, offered his memories on Dan Hinkel with InterMat.
"Dan was a graduate of Lock Haven State Teachers College and would often come back to alumni events. Somehow the topic would always turn to wrestling. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy. A story goes that he called a wrestler who wore an earring into his office. He offered, 'When you go to interview for a job, do you think some young, hip person will be interviewing you or maybe some older fogie like me who sees that hole in your ear?' Dan and his wife Lois rarely missed the annual PA Chapter banquets. He will be missed."
Hinkel received numerous honors over the course of his long, successful career. In 2008, Hinkel was honored by the National Wrestling Coaches Association with a lifetime membership, as well as receiving a Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. In 2003, Hinkel was inducted into the KU Athletics Hall of Fame. He also is a member of Lock Haven University Hall of Fame.
Dan and Lois Hinkel established the Hinkel Family Scholarship in 2001 to assist a Kutztown University wrestler who has been accepted in the university's College of Education. In recognition of the Hinkel family's dedication and volunteerism, the KU athletic department established the Hinkel Service Award, presented to a member of the athletic department for their service to the community.
Born in Williamsport, Pa., Daniel J. Hinkel played football and wrestled at Williamsport High School. After graduation in 1949, Hinkel attended Lock Haven College (now Lock Haven University), where he graduated in 1953. He later earned his Master's Degree from Bucknell University in 1957. Hinkel first taught biology at Montoursville High School and Jersey Shore High School prior to serving as a professor and wrestling coach at Kutztown. He was a Veteran of the Korean War, having served in the Army from 1953 to 1955.
Hinkel is survived by his wife Lois, two sons, and three grandchildren.
Located in eastern Pennsylvania, Kutztown University was founded in 1866. The four-year, state university has an enrollment of approximately 10,000 students. The Golden Bears wrestling team and other intercollegiate sports programs compete in NCAA Division II.