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James Gordon Bickel

James Gordon Bickel (Jim), age 84, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on his birthday, March 1, 2024. He was preceded in death by his parents Tony and Beth Bickel, and also his beloved wife of 60 years, Rexie Berdean (Olsen) Bickel, a Sidney HS alumni, class of 1958. Jim was the father of daughter, Elizabeth Gilberts (Wayne) of Elizabeth City, NC; son, Mike Bickel (Beth) of Virginia Beach, VA; and daughter, Heather McCloskey (Jim) of Leesburg, VA. He was the grandfather of Virginia Ross (Chris), Jeff Bickel (Wesley), Christina Pryor (Gary), Emily Strelitz (Nate), Kaitlin Rodgers (Nate), Patrick Bickel, Justin McCloskey, Jacob McCloskey (Kayla), Lauren McCloskey and Haley McCloskey; and great-grandfather of Kylee Ross, Chloe Ross, Landon Pryor, Hayden Bickel, Brantley Pryor, Max Bickel and Christian Pryor. He was the brother of the late Anthony Richard Bickel (Peggy) and Michael Alon Bickel (Anita). Jim was the uncle to three nieces, a nephew and many great-nieces and great-nephews.

Jim was born in Kimball, Nebraska on March 1, 1940. He graduated from Sidney High School in 1957. Jim then enlisted in the US Navy in 1958 as an Aviation Electrician's Mate, and was first stationed in Norman, Oklahoma. Jim was also stationed at NATTC Jacksonville, NAS Point Mugu, NAS Miramar, and NAS Oceana. In 1972, Jim was accepted into the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD Group Two) team in Virginia Beach, VA as a Chief Petty Officer. He qualified as a parachutist, hard hat diver and explosive demolition expert. Jim's duty deployments included a tour in Vietnam, sea duty on the USS America CV-66 and the USS JF Kennedy CV-67 and to the Suez Canal in Egypt in 1975.

In 1981, Jim retired as the Officer in Charge of the EOD detachment at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, WA with 23 years of active service. After honorably serving his country, Jim worked 30 more years as a defense contractor with companies such as TRW, Northrop and Harris Corporation. Jim enjoyed volunteering his time and talents at Herndon United Methodist Church alongside his late wife, Rexie. Together they volunteered on over 12 mission trips to help rebuild homes and communities in New Orleans, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and other cities. Jim was a great storyteller, who loved his family, God, fishing, hunting and Nebraska Cornhuskers football.

A Celebration of Life service will take place at noon on March 23, 2024, at Herndon United Methodist Church, located at 701 Bennett Street, Herndon, VA, 20170. A burial with full honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a date TBD.


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