36. William A. Sikkel (1917 - )
William A. Sikkel was born
in Holland, Michigan on November 25, 1920. His father, Peter C. Sikkel, immigrated to
Holland from the Netherlands in the late 1890s. His mother was born on a farm located
where the present day Johnson Controls building is located now on Blue Star Highway.
Sikkel graduated from Holland Christian High in 1938. He
took additional classes as needed for business purposes, and attended the United States
Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas after serving in World
Sikkel's military career started when he joined Holland's
Company D, 126thInfantry on his 18th birthday. He was activated for federal duty in
October 1940 and was shipped to Louisiana for what he though would be a year's training.
Just as the war in Europe was escalating his active duty was extended and was soon
followed by the bombing at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After the United States
declared war on the Axis powers Sikkel's military career was extended for more than five
years, 3 ½ years of which were in the South Pacific. During his time in the South Pacific
area he was part of the famous crossing of the Owen Stanley Mountains in the New Guinea
Campaign. During his military career, Sikkel received several awards and ribbons, which
included the Combat Infantry Mans Medal, Bronze Star, Pacific Theatre Ribbon with 2 Stars,
Presidential Unit Citation, Pre-Pearl Harbor Ribbon, as well as others.
Upon returning home from the Pacific Sikkel met, dated and
married Elaine Vos in June of 1946. Together they raised three children.
While on active duty, Sikkel received several promotions as
an enlisted man to include PFC, Corporal, Sergeant, and Staff Sergeant. In 1946 Sikkel
returned to the states as a captain and was asked by the Governor of Michigan to
reorganize and serve as captain of the Holland unit of Company D, 126th Infantry. In 1972,
after 32 years of service, he retired from the Army of the United States, and the Michigan
National Guard as a Lt. Colonel. In 1989, Sikkel was appointed a full Colonel by Governor
John Engler to serve as a commander, and later, a General Staff Officer (Civil Affairs),
in the Michigan Emergency Volunteers (MEV).
Sikkel's political career began when he was elected mayor,
never having served as a city councilman. But he credited his successful election to his
past involvement in community activities, many as the Company D commander during many
Memorial Day and two Tulip Time parades. Later community service included becoming a Life
Member of the Salvation Army Board, serving on several Chamber of Commerce committees,
serving as President of the Holland Board of Realtors, President and Lt. Governor of
Kiwanis, and Sunday school superintendent, elder, and deacon for Faith Christian Reformed
Church of Holland.
Sikkel also takes pride in having a part in the
construction of brick paths in Centennial Park. After observing a veteran trying to access
the gravel path to view the Veteran's Memorial in a wheelchair he suggested constructing
the paths to the Holland Historical Committee and others, including councilman and future
mayor Philip Tanis, who led the "Buy a Brick Campaign."
Some accomplishments Holland made during his tenure included the park paths, the
completion of, and dedication of Evergreen Commons, the opportunity to participate in the
final phases of the acquisition of Tulip City Airport, the opportunity to be host to the
first Michigan Mayor's Conference, the inaugural Amtrak run to Chicago, the visits with
the Netherlands Ambassador in Washington then having him and his wife visit Holland for
Tulip Time. He greatest disappointment was not being able to bring a modern municipal
marina to Holland.
After being defeated by Philip Tanis in the 1987 mayoral
race, Sikkel left politics for a few years, but returned in 1994 when elected to the
Allegan County Commission. In November 2002 he was elected to a 5th term, and now is
serving as the vice chair, chair of the Law Committee and committees such as County
Planning, Board of Public Works (BPW), County Services, Economic Development. He also
serves as treasurer of the West Michigan Regional Planning Board, as a member of the
Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) Transportation Committee, the Macatawa Area
Coordinating Council, and the Military Academy Selection Committee for Congressman Peter
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