Harold, born January 25, 1922 in Woodbourne, New York passed away on November 20, 2021 at Garnet Hospital 2 months short of his 100th birthday. He was the son of Charles and Frances Stangel. As a teen he worked as a carpenter for his father who owned the business Stangel and Jones Construction. He started by building concrete forms and filling them with a wheelbarrow. He was also the "cut man". He got to saw roof rafters all day long with just a hand saw. His dad treated him just like any other employee.
After graduating from high school in Fallsburg in 1938, he went into the Air Force and ended up in the Southeast Pacific on the island of Ieshima where he attained the rank of Captain. He was lucky that he made friends with the flight surgeon and was able to live in an ambulance during the monsoon season. The flight surgeon (Ken Steele) also had access to medicinal alcohol. It didn't get much better than a dry bunk to sleep in and something to add to your "bug juice" at night. He flew over 129 combat missions He started flying in the P-47 Thunderbolt and later got to fly the P-51 Mustang with the Rolls Royce engine. He said it was an excellent plane to fly. He was awarded an Air Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, American Theater Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, a Bronze Star and a World War II Victory Medal.
Sadly, he lost his brother Walter 2 weeks after the invasion of France on the beaches of Normandy, France. It took a period of time before he found out about Walter's death. It took him over 40 years before he was able to visit Walter's grave in Brittany, France.
After he got home from the war, he went to Cornell University. He went on a blind double date with his friend Bob McClay where he met Cornelia Brooks who he was married to for 73 years. After graduating he got a job with the USDA as a farm inspector. They didn't have much money but always had fresh vegetables to eat. One day Connie ran into a friend of hers that she had gone to high school with. His name was Harry Resnick and he owned Channel Master in Ellenville, NY. She told Harry that Harold was looking for a job; he told her to have him come see him. Harry hired Harold to be the Personnel Manager, a job he did for 38 years.
During this time they had 5 children and sadly lost their 9 year old daughter Kathleen. We, as kids, were lucky to have Harold and Connie as our parents. We always had what we needed and were lucky enough to go to college and pursue our dreams
In his retirement, he and Connie traveled the world to see other countries and sample the local food, beer and wine. He always loved fish and even tried sea urchins and percebes, local delicacies in Spain and Portugal. He spent a month in Costa Rica not speaking a word of Spanish, and even went to the Great Wall of China and visited Russia.
Known as 'Hesh' by his friends, and 'Cookie' at the hunting camp, he had a wicked sense of humor, and usually came out with a 'zinger' when you least expected it which would have you in stitches for several minutes.
Harold was a member of the 341st Fighter Squadron Association, the P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association, the Stangel-Bernstein VFW Post 8086 and the White Tail Lodge Hunting Club. He was also a former member and secretary/treasurer at the Woodbourne Fire Department. He also enjoyed hunting and fishing.
Harold was pre-deceased by his sister, Rita Cerato, brothers Walter and Donald, his daughter Kathleen and daughter-in-law Carol. We think that the reason why Harold did not like funerals was because he lost his father and mother at an early age, also his brothers and daughter. Funerals are never a happy occasion and he didn't like to see grieving people.
He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Cornelia (Connie) Stangel, daughter Christina Gage (Nick), sons David, Peter (Jing Ji) and Jim (Valerie), sister in law Olive (Dolly) Stangel, grandchildren Caitlin Batchlor (Craig) and Matthew Stangel (Liz). Also, several nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews, great grand nieces and nephew and 3 granddogs.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to a charity of one's choice. As per his wishes there will be no funeral but a party in the celebration of his life will be scheduled next year.
Arrangements under the care of Colonial Memorial Funeral Home, for further information call 845-434-7363 or visit www.colonialfamilyfuneralhomes.com
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