• Date Of Birth: April 8, 1934
  • Date Of Death: July 26, 2019
  • Spouse: Clayton Brockel
  • Resting Place: Anchorage
  • City: Soldotna
  • State: Alaska

Jean Mirella Bardelli Brockel, 85, of Soldotna, Alaska, passed away on July 26 at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

Jean was born on April 8, 1934, in Virginia, Minnesota, in the heart of the Mesabi Iron Range, the only child of Italian immigrants Lino and Erma (Barboni) Bardelli. She attended elementary and high school in Virginia, Minn., and in May 1956 received her B.Ed. in primary education and a year later her B.A. in music from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn. In the fall of 1956 Jean began her first teaching job at the Kenai Territorial School in Alaska. The next five years saw her travel from Alaska to Europe, back to Alaska to teach on military bases at Adak and Fairbanks, at the elementary school in McGrath, and then to Soldotna in 1962 where she has lived and worked as an educator, musician, homemaker and philanthropist ever since. Jean married Clayton E. Brockel on May 24, 1968, in Kenai, Alaska, about four years after Clayton had founded what is now Kenai Peninsula College (KPC). While teaching at Soldotna Elementary School, Jean received her Master of Education degree from the University of Alaska in May 1973. For twenty years Jean taught in the Kenai Peninsula Borough school district and, after retiring, turned her talents to teaching music and voice at KPC. At Kenai Peninsula College, Jean helped create the award-winning Sunday Showcase (now the KPC Showcase) in the spring of 1984 because, in Jean’s words, “Every college and university needs a program where students in performing arts have a chance to practice their craft. We want to give them that opportunity.” In May 2003, Jean was awarded the Woman of Distinction Award by Soroptimist International “in recognition of her professional and voluntary accomplishments in Education.”

In May 2015, the University of Alaska Anchorage awarded Jean its Meritorious Service Award “for significant public, academic, volunteer and philanthropic service to the University of Alaska community.” In praise and recognition of Jean’s decades-long work in education and the arts, the award’s citation notes that when Jean began teaching music at Soldotna Elementary School in 1962, “she could be found rolling her piano up and down the hallway from room to room to teach music classes. She also worked with Kenai Performers, Pier One Theatre in Homer and the Peninsula’s Performing Arts Society. She sang in the community chorus, led rehearsals for large-scale musicals and concerts, acted as a vocal coach, produced recitals and directed productions of her own. She also played a starring role in The Ballad of Kenai, the nationally recognized, award-winning musical.” The citation concludes that Jean has been “one of the most recognizable faces of the arts on the Peninsula, passionately advocating for arts and education.”

Jean was preceded in death by her parents, Lino and Erma Bardelli; son, John C. Brockel; and husband, Clayton Brockel. She is survived by innumerable friends, students, fans and admirers, and a thriving arts and music scene on the Kenai Peninsula which Jean has had no small hand in creating, nurturing and supporting throughout these past six decades. Of the thousands of lives and artists that Jean has touched in her life’s work, she will be missed by all and forgotten by none.