Hardworking and quiet were just few ways to describe Roger Bockelman, who had a very loving personality. At a young age, he learned the value of work before play and later in life, he enjoyed the relaxing times of having a cup of coffee throughout the day either at the truck stop or Big G’s in Columbia City.
With the minimum hourly rate of 25 cents, 1938 had many events that would change the world forever. The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, later known as the March of Dimes, was founded in January; the popular comic superhero Superman made his first appearance in April when Action Comics #1 was published, which is considered one of the most valuable comic books ever created and has sold for more than $3 million; the first use of seeing eye dogs occurred, oil was first discovered in Saudi Arabia; and Federal National Mortgage Association “Fannie Mae” was established. These were just a few of the events, but the biggest news of the year for Jacob F. and Geraldine E. (Heinley) Bockelman was the announcement of the birth of their oldest child, Roger Frederick Bockelman. He was born at a local hospital on May 16, 1938, in Fort Wayne.
He grew up on the family farm near South Whitley with his younger siblings, Robert, Richard and Jerine. Roger did not have a lot of free time for sports because of his obligations on the farm. In his senior year at South Whitley High School, he purchased his first car and took interest in what would be considered a classic in 2019. After graduating with the Class of 1956, Roger started his work at Ulmer Oil Company and Green Acre Sod Farm in Collins before working at International Harvester for over 20 years, until retiring in 1983.
He continued to stay busy after retiring by utilizing his CDL and drove for TFE Dana, Indiana Truck Auction, Stoops Freight Liner, WA Jones or anyone in need of a driver if he had time. While making a delivery in Albion, Roger was introduced to the gal that would change the course of his life. On May 24, 1999, he married Barbara J. (Langohr) Dunlap in Columbia City by the Rev. Phil Blake. Roger had attended over the years Hope Lutheran Church and Grace Lutheran Church in Columbia City.
With a love of cars and tractors, he looked forward to any car or tractor show, along with the truck and tractor pulls and Plow Days. He perfered Farmall tractors and tinkering around with his tractors. In his younger years, he rode his Honda Goldwings and going on rides with Barb. They also enjoyed camping with friends. Out of everything though, Roger loved spending time with his family. He loved his children and adored his grandchildren. Their lives would change forever at 3:35 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, when Roger Bockelman passed away at his home in Columbia City at the age of 81.
Survivors include his loving wife of 20 years, Barb Bockelman; children, Michael (Dawn) Bockelman, Randy Bockelman, Brent (Cindy) Bockelman, Lori (Brandin) Heuer, all of Columbia City; step-sons, Eric Dunlap, Fort Wayne and Jason Moore, Columbia City; daughter-in-law, Dana Dunlap, Kentucky; siblings, Bob (Janice) Bockelman, Columbia City, Dick Bockelman, Arizona and Jerine Bockelman, Florida; 12 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a stepson, Jeffrey Dunlap.
A gathering of family and friends will be 3-8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, at DeMoney-Grimes, a Life Story Funeral Home, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City. Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home with Rev. Matthew Converse of Grace Lutheran Church officiating. Burial will follow at South Park (Annex) Cemetery where he will be laid to rest beside his parents. Memorial donations may be made in his memory to Parkview Whitley Home Health Care and Hospice or Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana. Visit www.demoneygrimes.com to send his family condolences online.