Hank Bardel: 1945 - 2015

Hank Bardel: 1945 - 2015

It is with sadness in our hearts to share the news that our friend and colleague, Hank Bardel, passed away on Wednesday, August 5.

Because Hank was such a big part of Marshall Institute, we felt it appropriate that Hank’s family asked our CEO, Dale Blann, to share some thoughts about Hank at his memorial service. Following is an excerpt from Dale’s tribute to Hank:

Marshall Institute has lost a part of who it is—Hank was the perfect embodiment of all those qualities and virtues we have always wanted Marshall Institute instructors and consultants to project to the world.

We all learned a lot from Hank. What we learned from Hank made it possible for many of us to know what we were supposed to be doing. It was Hank’s simple coaching, and the example he set, that showed the rest of us how it could be done.

It was an understatement to say that Hank could tell a story—for all I know, some of them may have been true. But it wasn’t really the truth of the story that mattered—it was the message. I’m pretty sure that for almost every learning point he taught in his classes—Hank had a story associated with it, by which, he could make the point more relevant, more memorable—and more often than not, funny.


The fact is that Hank’s class evaluations from his students were the highest of any instructor in the history of Marshall Institute—nearly a perfect 100 every time!
For a long time, I suspected Hank must be filling out and reporting the evaluations himself; or, I thought maybe he was changing their answers before he turned the evaluations back. Then, I thought perhaps he could be coaching his students in some way to fill out the forms in just the “right” way, in his favor. I even thought, perhaps he might be paying them in some way! I even began visiting Hank’s class on the last day to see if I could detect or prevent whatever skullduggery must be going on.

But, to no avail, of course. There was no skullduggery; Hank’s students simply loved him—and everything he said—and how he said it.

Hank’s students not only liked him—they never forgot him. When any of us meet prior Marshall Institute students, anywhere in the world, who’ve been in one of Hank’s classes, they will invariably ask about Hank and relate to us just how great their experience had been, and how much they liked being in Hank’s class. It will often have been the best class they have ever attended.

It’s a fact that Marshall Institute instructors spend a lot of time in airports and on airplanes.

So let me tell you of the time that Hank dropped his drawers in an airport. Hank had been gone to Mexico to do a job somewhere down there. He had promised Glenna to bring her two bottles of Tequila. So he’s coming home, he’s in an airport, Houston I think, rushing from one gate to another, to make his connection. Now it just so happened that at this time Hank had been losing some weight. He was having to hitch up his pants every now and then, because they weren’t fitting quite right, anymore. He’s in a crowded airport, he feels his pants begin to slip— now he’s juggling a lot of things: he’s got his bag, his computer, and Glenna’s two bottles of Tequila (this was before 9-11 obviously).

He can’t just suddenly drop things and grab his pants—the bottles are glass, and he didn’t want to drop the computer—but before he could get things under control, his pants drop completely to the floor. This exposes part of Hank Bardel that even Hank Bardel had not seen for a long time. Now the way he tells the story, after a rousing round of applause from the airport crowd, he simply said, pulling up his pants, “and now for my next trick…”

There was the time that Hank was returning home on an airplane and had been assigned the front bulkhead, aisle seat, on the plane. That put him almost knee-to-knee with the flight attendant on that flight, who apparently had had a very long, stressful, tiring day. Now, Hank was a friendly guy. He and the flight attendant are engaged in friendly conversation; when she learns that Hank’s a frequent flyer, weekly almost, and is quite familiar with the safety briefing, which she is about to have to give. The flight attendant, weary and bone-tired, actually asked Hank if he’d be willing to deliver the safety message. Hank would do anything, especially if he figured he could get some humor into it. And that’s exactly what he did! I wasn’t there. I can’t quote the safety message Hank delivered. But my understanding is that when Hank was done, the passengers on that plane were in stitches and giving him a rousing hand of applause. I’m pretty sure that Hank’s safety briefing, whatever it was, was not FAA-approved.

That was Hank---you didn’t have to know him. But if you were around him very long—you’d be applauding something.

We applaud you Hank. We’re going to miss you.

If you would like to share words or a story about Hank, please share in the comments below.

Words from our community

Hank was all that a instuctor should be, I throughly enjoyed him every time I had him, and ask for him specifically for our in house training. I,ll never forgot one of his catch phrases was the south bound end of a north bound mule, he will be sadly missed. - Tony Baldridge

I am saddened to hear of the passing of Hank. I had the pleasure of attending two Marshall Institute classes under Hank's instruction. I have to say it was indeed a treat. Hank's humorous and common sense approach to the subject matter was always refreshing. It was clear to see he loved what he did and loved sharing his vast years of knowledge, experience, and yes, stories with others. Individuals like Hank that view their duties not as a job but rather opportunities to help others will always be missed. Thank you Hank for the fond memories and the invaluable lessons. - Randy Blair Chief Maintenance Technician Stryker Medical

You hit the nail on the head when you said Hank embodied all the qualities you'd ever want in a teacher. He made you want to listen and learn and to come back for the next day of class. If every teacher possessed the skill's Hank did we'd not only be a much smarter world for it we'd also solve the truancy issue since learning from him was truly fun! We all know a teacher or two in our lives that had the qualities Hank had, the difference was Hank was teaching adults with a lot of work experience and he had to convince them that what he was teaching was the better way. Not an easy thing to do but as his surveys showed Hank always made them see the light and along the way have fun. The world is a better place because of Hank and now he can watch over the thousands of people he taught and truly appreciate the impact he had. - Rob Weiss

I had the privilege of attending the Planning and Scheduling coarse with Hank. I will never forget Hank explaining what Bless you Little heart really meant. He did have a way to grabbing your attention and keeping it until weeks past your encounter. Heaven has gained a great soul. - Robert Goeden

Hank was a world class consultant, trainer, mentor, friend, and story teller. He impacted all of us here at Marshall Institute in ways that we will never forget. We will miss him, but his presence will remain with us. - Greg Folts

I'd say it's been 7, or 8 years since my manager, and I took Hank's class. Just like it was stated in the excerpt above we never forgot Hank. Since the class we mention Hank from time to time, and how he taught us. Hank's way of teaching was the best. He was able to make you understand, and relate to everything by the stories. Hank will definitely be missed. - Phillip Kosier

I had several classes with Hank. He was a very good instructor. When I came back from one of my classes with him I would tell my boss "Hank said....." My boss finally got tired of me saying Hank said.... so he asked me "Just who the He** is this Hank?" I simply said Hank was the man!! - Bryan Rooker

Hank Bardel has played many successful roles in his life; husband, father, colleague, mentor, and friend are just a handful. To me Hank was a friend first a mentor second, and lastly a colleague. Hank truly was a one-of-a-kind guy with southern charm, humor and humility in abundance. Hank was caring and sharp as a tack. I, like so many others, have been blessed for having known Hank. To paraphrase Jim Rohn, in life we are the average of the people we choose to spend our time with. If that’s the case then Hank Bardel definitely brought my average way up. I cherish the time we spent together. I’ll miss you friend. - Tom Furnival

I am absolutely devastated learn of Hanks passing and send my condolences to his family, which I know was what Hank lived for. He introduced and taught me concepts and strategies for world class maintenance a long time ago. I only hope I can honor his memory by continuing the pursuit of world class maintenance by sharing and teaching these concepts to the next generation. Rest in peace, Hank. - Jim Brock

My class with Hank has been a few years ago. It is not often you remember someone who teaches you in such a short class but I do remember him well. I do not remember specifics but I do remember his passion for making sure no one left at the end of the week with unanswered questions. He genuinely cared about each and every student's problems. You could tell it didn't matter the topic, if you had a question, he tried to answer it. He tried to pull those pain points out of each of us. And he usually had a funny story to go along with it. For me, Hank alone differentiated the name Marshall Institute from other training companies. I do not envy you guys trying to find a replacement with his skillset. - Scott

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