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Meet Your Neighbor: Hal Weitzel

October 5, 2017 GMT

He is glad the nickname that stuck with him is “Halvin.”

“I don’t know where that came from,” Hal Weitzel said with a laugh. “Nobody every believes my name is Hal. They say, well what is it short for? It’s not short for anything, it’s Hal. It’s not short for Harold or Halvin or Halitosis or anything like that. So I’m glad Halvin stuck and Halitosis didn’t.”

Weitzel, who grew up in North Platte, volunteers three days a week at Great Plains Health, where he mans the valet booth.

“I went to Buffalo Elementary, Madison and then North Platte High School,” Weitzel said. “Then I went to Kearney State College and a semester here at North Platte Junior College.”

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He graduated from North Platte High School in 1966.

“My grandparents came over from Germany, so they were pretty close to the German heritage,” Weitzel said. “I think what brought them here was just a chance for a better life.”

His grandparents settled in Gering before moving to North Platte.

“My grandfather was a truck farmer and they had an orchard in Arkansas where they grew peaches,” Weitzel said. “They trucked their peaches and other produce they would buy down there up here to Nebraska and sell it. That’s how they made their living in the early days.”

Weitzel said he retired from Union Pacific in 2008 after working as an engineer for 39 years. The Weitzels have two children, son Kristopher and daughter Hally.

“I am married to Donna, a local girl,” Weitzel said. “It will be 50 years we’ve been married next June, and we will be spending it in Israel.”

The couple is looking forward to their trip.

“We are just so excited to go there,” Weitzel said. “We want to see where Jesus was, and they have the spot marked where the cross was and it just gives me chills to think about it.”

Weitzel enlisted in the Navy in 1968.

“I was in the Navy for four years, from 1968-72,” Weitzel said. “I did not have to go to Vietnam. I was stationed in Pensacola, Florida, in a training squadron. I got lucky.”

While in the service, he lived a number of places.

“North Platte is home,” Weitzel said. “We’ve been all over. I lived in Florida when I was in the service and in Tennessee, but this is where my roots are.”

He and Donna like to travel, and there is one place in Nebraska they would like to visit — Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River bordering Nebraska and South Dakota.

“My wife and I would like to go to Gavins Point and fish for paddlefish,” Weitzel said. “My wife likes to fish, but she’s not wild about boats. If you can do it from the bank ...”

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Fishing is one of his favorite hobbies.

“I like to fish with my son,” Weitzel said. “I also like yard work and volunteering (at Great Plains Health).”

Weitzel likes to cook.

“I do most of the cooking at home,” he said. “My favorite dish to cook is cheesecake. When I buy cream cheese, I buy it like 10 pounds at a time. That’s how many of them I make, and I give them all away.”

One thing about Weitzel that not many people know is his sensitivity.

“Most people think I’m a grouchy old German, but there’s a part I don’t let too many people see,” Weitzel said. “I’m very sensitive. I hate seeing cruelty to animals or people who are less fortunate, I don’t like to see people who just aren’t doing well, it bothers me.”

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