Donald D. Mickel, an enthusiastic Sacramento auctioneer who taught many other fast-talking wheeler-dealers, died Tuesday of complications from a 2008 stroke, his family said. He was 84.
Mr. Mickel was retired from a lengthy civil service career when he took up the auctioneer's chant. He started his own business, All American Auction and Consignment, on Power Inn Road in 1988.
He also trained auctioneers around the country at his All American School of Auctioneering, where two-week sessions covered topics ranging from how to develop a signature chanting style to drawing up consignment contracts.
His eclectic merchandise ranging from tractors to diamonds drew furniture buyers, antique collectors, computer scavengers and other bargain hunters to sales. Their anticipation and excitement grew quickly with the bidding as his rhythmic chant built with a rapid-fire cadence that was part salesman, part showman.
" 'Have I got a deal for you!' he'd always say," said his daughter, Janis Szichak. "He had a way of talking about a trinket that would make you think it was the most rare and exotic thing in the world. That would get the crowd going, and the bidding would start."
Mr. Mickel previously spent almost 30 years as a civilian Army consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense. His job included extended periods of moving with his family around the United States and living in Ethiopia, Japan and South Korea. He retired at the Sacramento Army Depot in 1974.
He settled on 1 1/2 acres near Eastern Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard and raised beefalo cattle. Meanwhile, he served as executive director of the California Water Well Drillers Association and published beefalo and groundwater trade magazines.
"He just loved to work," his daughter said. "As a young boy, he worked in strawberry fields in Washington and made money for himself."
Mr. Mickel was born in 1927 in Centralia, Wash., into a family of entertaining hawkers. His grandfather, E.O. Mickel, was a sharpshooter and roper who performed in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. His paternal uncle, Montie Montana, was a rodeo trick rider and cowboy who had small roles in Hollywood westerns.
He served in the Navy during World War II and married his wife of 66 years, Joyce. They had three children.
Despite many careers, Mr. Mickel wanted to be an auctioneer since he attended auctions with his grandfather as a young boy, his daughter said. He suffered a major setback in 2008, however, when a serious stroke left him physically disabled and debilitated with a form of aphasia that impaired his ability to speak and to understand others.
Mr. Mickel had a warm smile and charismatic charm that connected easily with people. At auctions, he enjoyed performing as well as selling.
"I've got to get them excited," he told The Bee in 1990. "Excitement is what this is all about."