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Mike Simacek served city for years as teacher, council member, activist

First, Mike Simacek taught industrial arts at Hastings High School for 30 years. Then, he continued to give his time to the community through a number of city commissions and as a City Council member. He also found time to serve the Boy Scouts, VFW, American Legion and the Hastings Lions Club.

On Friday, June 29, 2012, Simacek died. He was 82.

Originally from Montgomery, Simacek earned his bachelor's and master's degrees and served in the military during the Korean Conflict. He married his wife Lois in 1955.

For more than 30 years, he was well-known to Hastings students, staff and the community, teaching industrial arts at Hastings High School. He was a former Hastings Teacher of the Year and Minnesota Industrial Arts Teacher of the Year. He was a past Minnesota Industrial Technology Educators president.

He was the city's Red Cross disaster chairman in 1965; a charter member of the Hastings Lions Club and the recipient of Melvin Jones Fellowship (Lions selected for their community service). He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and Hastings Jaycees, a member and past commander of the Hastings American Legion Post 47; life member of the Hastings VFW Post 1210 and the DAV; and was very involved with scouting. He achieved the rank of life scout as Boy Scout adviser for Explorer Scouts Post 447, and was Scoutmaster of Troop 206. He also received the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America.

Simacek also became involved in community activities during that period of time. He was the city's tree inspector for several years.

Former Hastings Police Chief Daryl Plath asked him to be a member of the public safety committee. Simacek also served on the then-Natural Resources and Recreation Commission (NRRC) for six years and the Hastings Planning Commission for six years.

For a short period of time, he was actually on two city commissions - Planning and the Heritage Preservation.

In an interview with the Star Gazette in 2002, Simacek said he found his involvement with the city very satisfying. As he neared the end of his commission role, he decided to take the next step - run for office.

His first time in running for City Council, Simacek lost to Tom Nesbitt. He lost. But in 1988, the incumbent 2nd Ward City Council member Bob Keller deiced to retire. Simacek ran against Paul Hicks, the current mayor. It would be a different outcome.

"It (running for office) was always something I wanted to do," said Simacek. "My philosophy goes back to the Jaycees days that if don't live in the best town in the world, you work to make it the best."

During Simacek's 12 years on the City Council, the city made a number of lasting decisions - acquiring and renovating the county courthouse and jail into City Hall and Police Department being one of the major ones. The Fire Department was enlarged.

They were the right choices, Simacek said at the time. The cost was right and the buildings would serve the city for many years.

Funeral services for Simacek were held Tuesday, July 3, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, with interment in Fort Smelling National Cemetery.

Simacek is survived by his wife, Lois of Hastings; four children Michele (Brad) Lein of Prior Lake, Mark (Julie) Simacek of Hastings, David (Tracy) Simacek of Loganville, Wis., and Scott (Keri) Simacek of Princeton, Wis.; 12 grandchildren; a brother Fritz (Marian) Simacek of Danbury, Wis.; and nieces and nephews.