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Growing up in Cedarburg, WI, Eric Bartel ’86, M.D., at first wasn’t committed to carrying on the Bartel-North Central tradition, which included attending Evangelical Theological Seminary upon graduation to become a pastor. Despite a few twists and turns in the family tradition, Bartel today is an orthopedic physician and loyal North Central alumnus, parent, Science Center donor and past recipient of an Alumni Recognition Award in 2000. 

When considering schools for studying science, Bartel had plenty of options, including University of Wisconsin-Madison, Marquette University and Northwestern University, which had offered him a partial scholarship. Fortunately, he also visited the alma mater of his father, Rev. Lowell Bartel ’57, his mother Beverly Magenheimer ’57 Bartel and his grandfather, Rev. John Bartel ’27.

“When I came down to visit, I just loved it,” he says. “And I wanted to run. I was part of Al Carius’ ‘run for fun and personal bests’ philosophy.” Bartel was a hurdler and participated in track and field. 

Carius—North Central’s head men’s cross country and assistant track and field coach—wasn’t the only person to inspire Bartel. His chemistry and biology studies were influenced by Anne Sherron, professor of chemistry emerita; Russell Poel, professor of chemistry; and John Zenchak, professor of biology. As an undergraduate, Bartel gained experience performing procedures on live rats and through an internship in histology. As a result, he was accepted to medical school at UW-Madison. Before medical school, he married classmate Kari McNulty ’86 Bartel, who attended UW-Madison to become a physical therapist. 

As he considered medical specialties, orthopedics made sense and he further specialized in foot and ankle injuries. “Interestingly enough, I never suffered any injuries while I was in athletics,” he says. “But it was an area of medicine I could relate to.”

After his medical training at hospitals in Detroit and Pittsburgh, the Bartel family eventually settled in Geneva, IL, where Bartel is affiliated with Fox Valley Orthopedics. The doctors in his practice are physicians for members of the Kane County Cougars baseball team and work with the athletic trainers who oversee day-to-day care. Bartel also devotes time to the Geneva High School football team and is on the sidelines during the games. “I was never a football player but it’s very fun to be on the field with the kids.”

Add another alumna to the Bartel family tree: Eliana ‘15 celebrated Commencement with her grandparents Rev. Lowell Bartel ’57, Beverly Magenheimer ’57 Bartel and parents Kari McNulty ’86 Bartel, Eric Bartel ’86, M.D.

When it was time for his daughter Eliana ’15 to choose a school, North Central gained a fourth generation Bartel family member. (Two sons, Connor and Blaine, attend elsewhere.) She graduated cum laude with majors in biology and psychology and is attending Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL, to study occupational therapy.

Eric and Kari are supporting the new Science Center with a significant annual contribution and continue to “talk up” North Central to prospective families. “We also encourage people by using the alumni scholarship. We’ve always felt that a North Central education  was well-respected in our careers.”