Mason City, Iowa–Richard “Dick” Jule Morel, one of the founders of RJO and a vice president of the organization that eventually became Jewelers of America, died Nov. 13 in Mason City after a battle with dementia.
He was 83.
Born May 16, 1934 to Frederic and Helen (Winterton) Morel in Shabbona, Illinois, Morel graduated from Sandwich High School in 1952. He went on to attend and graduate from the Elgin Watchmaking School.
He married Kathryn Beaver in Aurora, Illinois, in 1954. Two years later, they moved to Mason City, Iowa to work at BOE Jewelry.
In 1957, they bought the business and changed the name to Morel Jewelers.
The Morels raised their five children in Mason City and built their business–which would eventually grow to a total of five stores–there as well.
Longtime jeweler Richard “Dick” Jule Morel was known for his quick wit, laughter and high energy level. He died Nov. 13 at age 83 after a battle with dementia.
Along the way, Dick Morel added to his education, becoming a skilled diamond setter, a GIA Graduate Gemologist and an American Gem Society Certified Gemologist.
With his friend Grant Johnson and through the Iowa Jewelers Association, Morel formed the Retail Jewelers Organization (RJO), a buying group of independent jewelers that celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.
He also served as the vice president of what was then known as Retail Jewelers of America (today Jewelers of America), traveled the world sourcing diamonds and learning about the industry, and was in demand as a speaker at national jewelry industry conventions.
Outside of work, Morel was a member of the Toastmasters, Masonic Lodge, Kiwanis Club and the Mason City Chamber of Commerce. He also owned a hotel in Mason City at one point, the hotel that happens to be the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel still standing in the United States.
He is survived by two sons, Richard (Kathy) Morel Jr. and Kraig; one daughter, Dawn (Mark) Bruggeman; 12 grandchildren–Kara (Blake Petersen); Rachel (James) Duff; Bridget Morel; Dana and Jake Morel; Nick, Kris and Zach (Amanda) Buss; Caroline (Matt) Bennett; Natalie Morel; Meghan (Ryan) and Kathryn Bruggeman–14 great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Morel was preceded in death by his wife, Kathryn, son Bradley, and daughter Diane.
A gathering of family and friends was held Friday in Iowa.
Morel’s family said it extends its deepest thanks to the IOOF Home, where the staff’s compassion, devotion and support lessened his difficult journey through dementia.