Harvey County Commissioner Ron Krehbiel dies

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Commissioner Ron Krehbiel died Saturday, two days before his replacement was due to be sworn in on the county commission.

Harvey County Commissioner Ron Krehbiel, 79, who was finishing his final term on the commission this month, died Saturday after a prolonged illness. 

"When you work that closely with somebody for eight years, he kind of becomes family," said Harvey County Commission chair Randy Hague. "I'm not only going to miss him as a colleague, but as a friend."

Krehbiel served 20 years as a county commissioner, matching the longest tenure of any commissioner in the county's history. His first term began Jan. 8, 2001. He represented District 3, which includes Burrton, Halstead, Hesston and Sedgwick.

He is the second acting local politician to die in office in the last three years. David Nygaard died April 9, 2018, while serving as mayor of Newton. 

Krehbiel announced in April 2020 his intention to retire from the commission. 

He told The Kansan at the time he did not want to announce his retirement in the middle of the pandemic, as the pandemic had nothing to do with his decision. But he chose April to allow for possible candidates to get their paperwork together and meet June election filing deadlines.

Don Schroeder of Hesston won the Republican primary for the seat, and was then unopposed in the general election. Schroeder was due to be sworn in Monday, meaning Krehbiel's seat was technically vacant for about two days. 

Krehbiel grew up in Harvey County, playing high school football for Burrton. He went on to a 25-year career with the sheriff’s department before retiring. It was after that stint in law enforcement that he chose to run for the commission seat  — representing District 3, which includes Burrton, Halstead, Hesston and Sedgwick.

He told The Kansan in April his original intention was to serve three years. But those three years turned into 20.

“Yes, I am going to miss it,” Krehbiel said in April. ”... But I am getting old. You gotta be tough to get old. I don’t think people care like they used to. I will miss the meetings.”

Due to illness, he missed a number of meetings in the past few months. 

During his career Krehbeil worked with individuals to deal with their issues, something he told The Kansan he was proud of in April.

“You have people call you and you go see them and they thank you,” Krehbiel said. “I have been lucky enough to have people tell me I have done a good job. I got complaints, and I have tried to straighten those things out.”

And, he says, during that 20 years the commission has helped the county employees — something that was a goal of his when he first ran for office.

"If Ron likes your cause, whatever you might stand for, he's there with you through thick and thin. That's the way he worked as a law enforcement officer. That's the way he worked as a commissioner," said Harvey County Commissioner George 'Chip' Westfall. "He wanted to know your story in life, or your need in the county. He wanted to help everybody he could."

Krehbiel served on several boards, including the Harvey/McPherson County Community Corrections Advisory Board, Central Kansas Solid Waste Authority and the Community Mental Health Center Advisory Board.

Krehbiel was an avid outdoorsman who loved to hunt and fish. He also loved to spend time around his children and grandchildren

He was a member of Eden Mennonite Church, Moundridge.

He was a police officer in Pueblo, Colorado and Salina. He returned home to Moundridge to serve as Police Chief before beginning a 25 year career with the Harvey County Sheriff’s Department. Following his retirement he spent 5 years with the U.S. Marshall Service as Federal Court security.

Ron was still with the U.S. Marshalls when he was elected to and served for 20 years on the Harvey County Commission.  Monday was to be his last day.  Ron represented Harvey County on the Harvey/McPherson County Community Corrections Advisory Board, the Central Kansas Solid Waste Authority, and the Community Mental Health Center Advisory Board.