Kenneth A. Exel


Exel, Kenneth A. Age 85, of Brooklyn Center, died at home on July 7, 2006 after a courageous battle with congestive heart failure. Born Sept. 12, 1920 in Mpls. Ken graduated from Roosevelt High School. He then attended the U of M until entering the military. He ran the Navy's aquatic program in New London, Conn., and played Navy baseball until returning to the U of M to complete his teaching degree and play his final season as captain of the basketball Gophers. An original Mpls. Laker, he also played professional basketball for Oshkosh and Syracuse. In 1948 he began his career in education at Monticello. He then moved to Columbia Heights where he worked for 34 years first as a teacher and coach, then as a principal of Columbia Junior High. There he met his soul mate, Virginia Oppegard; they married in 1973. After they retired they had many happy years of travel to FL and AZ, and also enjoyed time at their cabin. Preceded in death by parents, Jack and Sophie Exel and son, John William Exel. Survived by his loving wife of 32 years, Ginny; brother, Larry (Sharon); children, Mike, Nancy (Charlie) Rechtzigel, Jane, and Susan; niece, Kathleen (Steve) Exel-Lohmar; seven grandchildren and 3 great- grandchildren. Memorial service to be Wednesday, July 12, 11 AM at the Lutheran Church of the Master 1200 69th Ave. N., Brooklyn Center 763- 561-5852. Private interment. In lieu of flowers, family prefers memorials to War Memorial Blood Bank, U of M Stem Cell Research or U of M Men's Basketball Program. Cremation Society of Minnesota 763-560-3100
This obituary was originally published in the Star Tribune.

Guest Book

Not sure what to say?

I played baskeball for Marshall High, and have vivid recollections of Ken when he had a leadership role on the Roosevelt team, and later with the Gophers. He always gave 100 percent effort, and it is obvious that he maintained this characteristic throughout his life. He undoubtedly had a very positive influence on hundreds of young people.

Hi Ginny,
I just heard from Pat (about Ken). I am so terribly sorry, you and your family are in my prayers and I hope to see you soon at the lake. I so enjoyed Ken's "stories" about Yogi Berra and others.

The McGinnis girls are all saddened to hear the news. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Little Tony sends a big hug.

Perhaps Ken can guide the Gopher Men's Basketball team from above. We will think of him and wish for it while we are in the stands.

God bless.


Sorry to here about Ken. Hope you are doing OK.

Dear Ginny,
I am so sorry to hear of Ken's passing. Your Island Lake friends were looking forward to you and Ken's visit. Please come and visit us soon, Ginny.

We are saddened by Ken's passing. When we recall all the good times we had together in Arizona, his quick wit and stories of his athletic endeavors were truly remarkable. He was right on target in assessing what was going on in the world, and for sure, we will never forget him. We keep Ginny in our thoughts and prayers and know she will miss his presence in her life.

May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.

Dear Ginny - I' sure you won't remember me - I was Ken's secretary at Columbia Jr High in the later 60's - Frances LeClair called me today to let me know about Ken's passing. I must have worked for Ken probably a couple of years - it was when they built Central Jr High and he became Principal of Columbia -Your were Ginny Oppegard if I remember correctly - a wonderful, lovely PE teacher - Anyway my condolences to you - I enjoyed working for Ken - he was a square shooter and a good boss -