Rachel L. Sterkel


Oct. 28, 1927 – Dec. 23, 2018

TORRINGTON – Funeral services for Rachel L. Sterkel, 91, will be 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, at the First Congregational Church with the Rev. Matt Gordon officiating. Burial will follow in the Valley View Cemetery. 

Rachel died Dec. 23, 2018, at Goshen Healthcare Community. Memorials may be made to the First Congregational Church. 

Visitation will be Wednesday at the funeral home from 10 a.m. to noon and the casket will be closed at the service. Arrangements are by the Colyer Funeral Home and condolences may be sent to www.colyerfuneralhome.com. 

Rachel was born Oct. 28, 1927, in Longmont, Colo., the daughter of Pete and Elizabeth Schlagel. At an early age, she moved from Longmont to Torrington, where her family farmed west of the sugar factory. 

She attended school in Torrington until the eighth grade when her father announced she was the best hired man he had. She was one of the first “females” to haul beets to the sugar factory. While she never learned to ride a bike, she could run the tractors and trucks with ease. 

On Nov. 25, 1945, she married Raymond “Willie” Sterkel. Together they farmed in the Lingle area, then Douglas and near Huntley. In 1960 they moved to their forever home in Torrington. 

Rachel began working in the school lunch program. During her 40-plus years, she worked at the Lincoln School, the middle school and the high school. As the school lunch coordinator and with the onset of government regulations, she did continuing education classes, receiving many certificates of recognition. Hard to please a family of four at mealtime? Try feeding a team of high school football boys. She cooked for the football camps for more than 20 years. She loved to see them “chow down.” Her favorites always got a little extra on their plate. Rachel will always be remembered for her culinary and baking talent.

Rachel was a member of the First Congregational Church. The very same church she and her brothers and sisters were confirmed in. She held various offices and was a member of the lady’s group, The Friendly Society.

Rachel is survived by her son Donald Sterkel of Lake Side, Ariz., with his three step-children, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Also surviving is her daughter Connie Packard of Torrington; granddaughter Nicole (Jordan) Cattin and grandchildren Taylor and Cooper of Kenmare, N.D. Being the last survivor of the original “Schlagel” family, she is survived by many loving nieces and nephews. 

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband Willie; one infant daughter Diane Lydia; brothers Herman (Martha) Schlagel, and Ben Schlagel; sisters Helene (Ruben) Foltz, Pauline (George) Schleining, Rosemary (Henry) Feagler and Darlene (Richard) Bower.

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