Otto Jakel was born in 1924 in Pierron. At the age of 8, the family moved to Highland. Jakel attended St. Paul grade and high school but left school a few months prior to graduating to join the Navy during World War II.
In 1946, Jakel started a small tool and die and metal stamping shop in the alley by the Lory Theater. In 1951, he expanded and build a building on West Broadway and began manufacturing sub-fractional horsepower motors for many household appliances, fans and pumps. He designed and built a lot of the equipment used to make the motors.
During 38 years of manufacturing in Highland, the Jakel companies and family provided steady employment for as many as 400 employees.
Jakel helped to form the Highland Manufacturing Association and served as its president. He also served on the boards of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) Foundation, Eagle Bank, and Eagle Bank Corp.
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At the time of his death in 1984, Jakel Manufacturing had plants in Greenville and Palestine, Ill., as well as Highland.
Jakel also was a member of the American Association of Industry Management, Illinois Manufacturers Association and served on the board of Illinois Small Business Association.
He was very active in the community as a member of the Highland Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, Helvetia Sharpshooters Society, the Highland Optimist Club, Highland Country Club, and St. Paul Church and its committees.
Jakel sponsored many sporting activities in the community, such as softball, baseball and bowling teams and he helped the Boy Scouts.
He taught young boys to build and fly model airplanes. They flew planes at the Highland VFW and various empty lots in town.
He helped initiate the Eastside Radio Control Club and Field at SIUE.
Jakel always thought very much of Highland and its people. He used to tell his children how great it was to live here.