Robert “Bob” Paul Hetzel, 81, of Oak Park, died on Feb. 7, 2022, of complications from Parkinson’s disease at Caledonia Senior Living and Memory Care in North Riverside. Born to Clara and Alois Hetzel in Plain, Wisconsin, his character was strengthened by the steady humor and sport of his 12 brothers and sisters.
His seemingly saintly reserves of patience served him well as a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, and teacher. After earning a B.S. in physics at St. John University in Minnesota (1962) and an M.S. in education from Northern Illinois University (1968), he taught physics for 35 years in the Chicago Public Schools, first at Chicago Vocational High School and then at Marie Curie High School.
After grading papers every night on the couch, he still had ample energy to devote to the people and causes he loved. A tireless advocate for peace and justice, he maintained a weekly presence above the I-290 Expressway to protest the Iraq war. He loved his weekly doubles tennis matches, a good euchre game with his siblings, ping pong with the kids, an afternoon run, blueberry muffins, and figuring out how to fix nearly anything around the house. Behind his quiet façade, he was always ready to surprise you with a quip and unafraid to speak out for what he knew to be right.
Bob is survived by Dorothy “Dottie”, his wife of more than 50 years; his daughter, Lisa; his son, Steve; his grandson, Nico; his siblings, J (Sonnie) Hetzel, Betty (Merlyn) Brockman, Sister Marlene Hetzel, Carrie (the late Jerome) Ballweg, Patricia (Wally) Miller, Bernie (Jim) Grota, Dave Hetzel, and Tom Hetzel. He was preceded in death by his parents as well as his brothers Val (Jean), Francis, Ted, and Jim Hetzel.
A memorial Mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26 at Ascension Catholic Church, 808 S. East Avenue, Oak Park, as well as streamed live on the church’s YouTube channel.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation, 200 S.E. First St. #800, Miami, FL 33131, www.parkinson.org, or the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, www.bradyunited.org.
Arrangements were handled by Brian Powell Funeral Directors of Hinsdale.