James Steven Hikel 78 of Christina, Montana, passed away Sunday, May 6, 2018 in the Central Montana Health and rehab of natural causes. Steve was born December 18, 1939, to Richard Salem Hikel and Virginia Inez (Daniels) Hikel at Laconia, New Hampshire. He graduated with the class of 1957 from Spaulding High School in Townsend, Massachusetts. He was active in the Navy for 2 years serving on the aircraft carrier USS Tarawa and worked in the legal department. After the Navy, Steve started his higher education journey by attending Worcester Massachusetts Junior College. In 1965 he received his Bachelor’s Degree from Kansas Wesleyan University at Salina, Kansas; then taught 4th Grade at Molly Stark in Bennington, Vermont, followed by 4th Grade in Hartford, Connecticut. He continued his education and in 1967 received a Master’s in Anthropology from Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado. On August 8th, 1970 he was united in marriage to Gail Williams in Missoula, MT. In 1972 Steve received a Doctorate in Education from the University of Montana at Missoula. Steve was the boy who hated school and wanted to be in the woods and outdoors. He dedicated his professional life to teaching and administration in schools, hoping to make the experience more enjoyable and rewarding for his students and teachers.

Steve and his wife Gail Diane (Williams) Hikel worked in Alaska for the Bureau of Indian Affairs for 2 years and were stationed in Eskimo bush schools at Savoona on St. Lawrence Island and at Little Diomede Island. Following the jobs in the village schools, Steve was Elementary Principal at Homer, Alaska, until 1981. He relocated to Montana and was the Principal at Highland Park Elementary School from 1981 to 1984. During this time Steve enjoyed singing in the Snowy Mountaineer Barbershop Chorus and was in many local shows.

Steve’s next work adventure took him back to the east coast from 1986-1992 where he worked as a carpenter doing commercial construction at Auburn, New Hampshire. Steve returned to Christina, Montana, and raised sheep from 1992-2004, before he officially retired.

Steve is survived by his wife Gail, and 2 sons: Gregory Scott Hikel of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, and grandsons Jessie and Ian Hikel; and Colter Shane Hikel of Odessa, Texas, and granddaughter Lillyan Hikel; two brothers, Ronald Salem Hikel of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Gerald Kent Hikel of Farmington, Connecticut.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Steve’s family thanks both Empress Nursing Care and Central Montana Hospice for the care and compassion that Steve received under their care.

A memorial for James Steven Hikel will take place this fall when his family can gather together. At his request cremation has taken place with the Cloyd Funeral Home assisting the family.

Friends are asked to make memorials to the charity of their choice and they may be left at Cloyd Funeral Home. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.cloydfuneralhome.com.