Born James Adrian Konkel in Wichita, Kansas on July 12, 1943 to Hubert John Konkel and Dorothy Marie (Ries) Konkel. Jim spent his youth loving life with friends and family in Lewiston, Minnesota and Wichita. He had a parochial education until the age of 15 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Guadalupe Catholic School, and Kapaun High School. He attended Wichita West High School before moving to Great Bend, Kansas where he graduated from Great Bend High School in 1961.
While attending Salt City Business College in Hutchinson, Kansas he met the love of his life, Mary Ellen Smith. They were united in marriage at St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Syracuse, Kansas on October 17, 1964. They lived all over Kansas while Jim honed his restaurant management skills before moving to Harper, Kansas in 1973 where they settled and raised their family.
Jim’s faith was important to him. He was a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church of the St. Joan of Arc Parish in Harper County. He could be seen participating in everything from lawn care, helping to renovate the church, and helping with various events, including the St. Patrick’s Day Dinner and Valentine’s Dinner for the parish women. He shared his faith and love of God with his family and those he worked with.
Jim loved hard work and alongside his wife, Mary Ellen, built not one, but two successful restaurants in Harper: The Hub Café and The Country Creamery. He was known to spend many hours each year putting up his Christmas Village in the lobby of the Creamery. Jim enjoyed mentoring employees and became beloved by both staff and customers. At the Creamery, he became more known as “Mr. Jim”. Jim had a large personality and will be remembered for his mischievousness. He loved a good prank and his quick wit would always lighten any situation. Many remember the giant water fights in the parking lot he instigated.
As a local businessman, Jim took his civil responsibilities seriously and served on the local Hospital Board and the Harper City Council, was a member of the Lion’s Club, Booster Club, and the American Legion. He also served in the Air National Guard until his honorable discharge in 1969.
Jim loved his family wholly and unconditionally and was proud of his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, siblings, nieces, and nephews. He could be heard constantly sharing their accomplishments to anyone who would listen.
Jim made friends easily, but his friendship was deep and would last a lifetime if you let him. He would do anything for his friends including help build a log cabin home. He was known for his generosity. He would never turn anyone away who could not pay for a meal. He was always willing to share his time and talents.
What little spare time he had, he could be found tending his yard, playing with the latest technology, or travelling the United States with his family. He enjoyed the arts and shared his love with family and friends.
Jim was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010 and in 2017, when he needed additional care, he moved into a memory care unit at Clearwater Nursing and Rehab. On May 10, 2020, with his wife by his side, Jim died of complications due to Covid-19. He was proceeded in death by his parents; Hub and Dot Konkel; his brother, Chuck Konkel; his sister, Pat Huffington Brace; his brother-in-law, Bob Huffington; and his sister-in-law, Dorothy Konkel.
This “One of a Kind” man will be deeply missed by his wife, Mary Ellen, of Harper; daughter, Kim Konkel, of Harper; son, Mike Konkel and wife, Julie; of Anthony, Kansas; son, David Konkel and wife Lori, of Colorado Springs, Colorado; son, Jeff Konkel, and wife Natalie, of Olathe, Kansas; son, Devin Konkel, and wife, Dawna, of Kansas City, Kansas; granddaughter, Caitlin Henderson and husband, Jake; granddaughter, Cassidy Miller and husband, Jeremy; granddaughter, Abby Konkel; granddaughter, Madison Konkel; grandson, Zach Konkel; granddaughter, Brynn Konkel; grandson, Griffin Konkel; three great grandchildren: Grady, Porter and Finley Henderson; his brother, Ron Konkel, and wife, Lucy, in Bethesda, Maryland; brother, Gary Konkel, and wife, Carol, in Berryville, Virginia; sister, Adele Anderson, in Pueblo West, Colorado; sister-in-law, Connie Friedel, and husband, Leonard, in Haysville, Kansas; many nieces, nephews, in-laws, and a host of relatives and friends.
Private family Mass of the Christian Burial was 10:30 a.m. Friday, May 15, 2020 at St. Patrick Catholic Church, Harper, of the St. Joan of Arc Parish in Harper County with Father Bob Pinninti officiating. Private inurnment followed at the Harper Cemetery. Because of the current health concerns and regulations, friends could be allowed to attend. The church service was live streamed via Facebook and can continue to be viewed on the funeral home’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/prairierosefuneralhomes. The family hopes at a later date to have a Celebration of Jim’s life that the public can attend and if able to do so, that information will be published at that time.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Patrick Catholic Church or Harper Food Bank and can be sent in care of the funeral home. Prairie Rose Funeral Home, 613 W. 14th St. ~ Harper, Kansas 67058. www.prairierosefuneralhomes.com