Michael David Spanel, age 71 of Eldorado, Illinois, passed away peacefully on Thursday, January 25, 2018 at home with his wife Rose by his side. Michael was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin to Romaine C. Spanel and Alice (Russell) Spanel. He was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire where he obtained a degree in Biology He was united in marriage to Rose M. (Strobl) Spanel on October 6, 1971. As Michael began his 35 year career, it was evident of his love for the outdoors and wildlife.
Michael had three children with Rose. Christopher (Laura) M. Spanel who have two children, Jordan and Auggie. Jason (Kivilcim) N. Spanel who have two children, Maia and Kiley. Laura (Drew) VanZandt, who have one child, John. He was very proud of his children as both boys went on to become Eagle Scouts and his daughter Laura obtained a Master's degree in Pediatric Occupational Therapy.
One of Michael's first jobs was as a Refuge Manager on Blackbeards Island in Georgia. There he released 2000 loggerhead sea turtles to the ocean helping them from becoming extinct. He proceeded from there to work at the Department of Defense at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia where his conservation program led to improving the wild turkey population. He helped re-established the turkey populations in Ohio and Illinois by capturing and releasing turkeys from A.P. Hill. From there, he went to Ohio and worked in Ecological Services where his work help protect sensitive mussel beds in the Ohio River. Next, onward to Ruby Valley, Nevada as Assistant Refuge Manager where he was able to restore and protect the sensitive nesting grounds for canvasback ducks. His final position was on the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois as a forest wildlife biologist. Through Mike's leadership, he developed partnerships (cost-share programs) with The National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, Taking Wings, Whitetails-Unlimited, and Boy Scouts of America.
In 1991 he received the Regional Forester's Honor Award for his outstanding achievement in the challenge cost-share program. Throughout Mike's 35 year career, he displayed a strong stewardship for conservation of our national forests.
One of Mike's greatest joy was to organize the Glen O. Jones Fishing Derby in Equality for over 20 years. To see so many children fishing with their parents brought him great joy. He diligently worked on the derby until his health started to fail him.
Time has quickly passed and Michael's battle with Parkinson's was taking a toll on such an active man. He still persisted in "chain sawing" on his peace of heaven on Wildcat Hills.
"May he now fly with the eagles and run with the wolfs."
Memorials to honor Mike's legacy may be made to:
Boy Scouts of America, Troop 23, Cub Scouts, First Presbyterian Church, 34 W. Poplar St., Harrisburg, Il 62946
Southeastern Burn Association, 945 State Hwy 146, Golconda, Il 62938
Hospice of Southern Illinois
Michael J. Fox Parkinson's Association
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, April 21 at 11 AM at "The Cabin in the Woods". All family and friends are welcome to attend. Please call for directions if needed.