Joseph Bakle, the first collision repair instructor at the Branch Area Careers Center (BACC) from 1973–1990, left a generous gift after his passing in 2013 to the Branch County Community Foundation in the amount of $156,299.77.
Because of that gift, scholarships will be available to students pursuing careers in auto collision.
The BACC Scholarships fund housed at the community foundation began in 2001 with a goal to “raise enough money to give a student from each BACC program a scholarship every year.”
Bakle graduated from Mark Township High School in Mark Center, OH, in 1946 and was hired on an annual authorization requiring him to earn his teaching degree.
Bakle first attended Ferris State University, where he took the National Occupational Competency test in auto body and scored in the upper 25 percent nationally. He then completed his bachelor’s degree in 1983 in secondary education with an auto body endorsement from Ferris State University.
Bakle taught at the BACC for 17 years until he retired in 1990—when he began his nine-year substitute-teaching career at the BACC.
Throughout that time, he also volunteered many hours to train and prepare students for the collision repair SkillsUSA competitions and numerous demonstrations for collision repair students.
In 2012, Bakle contributed to the BACC Scholarship Endowment Fund, allowing the BACC to provide a $500 scholarship to one outstanding senior from each of the 14 programs at the center.
That same year, he was inducted into the National Technical Honorary Society. Additionally, Bakle received several awards of recognition for his years of teaching and was involved in various educational clubs.
He served on the Coldwater Zoning Board from 1990–1996, volunteered his time at the Community Health Center of Branch County and in Iron Mountain Habitat for Humanity, Dickinson Memorial Hospital, substance abuse programs, and the Breen and Crystal Lake Senior Centers.