Virgil William Drabbels

Virgil William Drabbels, 89, of Hay Springs passed away March 3, 2012 at Pioneer Manor.

Virgil was born to William and Clara (Gottier) Drabbels on September 10, 1922 in Thedford, Nebraska, the oldest of three children. Later the family moved northwest of Gordon in the Milan and Pleasant Hill community where he attended country school and graduated from Pleasant Hill high school in 1939.

During this time Virgil was a stand out pitcher who, along with his brother Lawrence, led his team to many victories. After a semester at Chadron State College he worked for the telephone Company in the Rocky Mountains and then enlisted in the Marines. During World War II he saw such places as Guam, Guadal Canal, New Caledonia, Okinawa and China.

Corporal Virgil Drabbels was honorably discharged from the service on December 21, 1945 and hitchhiked to Twin Falls, Idaho where Audrey Perreten was teaching. They were married sixty six years ago on February 3, 1946, and raised three children, Gary, Joan and Susan.

Upon their return to Nebraska they farmed south of Gordon and later for four years on his mother’s family place which was four miles southeast of Rushville. Due to health issues they relocated to Hay Springs in 1955, purchasing the Marshall Wells hardware store; in 1958 he went into the mortuary business. After 35 years he retired and turned the business over to his son Gary.

Virgil served on the School Board, city council, Chamber of Commerce, the United Methodist Church where he was on the board and building committee. He coached baseball and was a scout master. Since 1964 his greatest interest has been Pioneer Manor serving as Chairman of the Board for many of those years.

Even after retirement, Virgil remained active in community endeavors. From a tough Marine to tender-hearted grandpa, Virgil has had positive influence in the community of Hay Springs and on his family.

Virgil was preceded in death by his parents William and Clara (Gottier) Drabbels, his brother Lawrence and three infant daughters; twins; Carolyn and Colleen, and Jane. He is survived by his wife Audrey (Perreten), one sister, Leona Metcalfe of Buena Park, CA, one sister-in-law Ida Mae (Kling) Drabbels of Alliance, one son Gary and wife Raylene (Kubo) of Hay Springs and two daughters, Joan and husband Bruce DeHaven of Kearney, NE and Susan and husband Roy Roberts of Rapid City, SD., ten grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, along with numerous nephews and nieces.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Hay Springs with Pastor Rodney Heilbrun officiating. Interment will be at the Hay Springs Cemetery.

A memorial has been established for the United Methodist Church or Pioneer Manor of Hay Springs. Donations may be sent to Chamberlain Drabbels Mortuary, PO Box 443, Hay Springs, NE 69347.

There will be a visitation for Virgil on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at Chamberlain Chapel in Chadron from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.

Online condolences can be made at

Chamberlain Drabbels Mortuary of Hay Springs is in charge of arrangements.

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