Claerence E. WentzMay 15, 1934 ~ November 27, 2017 (age 83)
Clarence Eugene (Bud) Wentz was born in Hartford City, Indiana on May 15, 1934, and passed away in Lubbock, Texas on November 27, 2017. He is survived by his children Clarence Edwin Wentz, Todd Zane Wentz, and Holly Wentz Reeves, his sisters Mary Dodson and Gretta Peterson, nine grandchildren as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Virginia Wentz, and wife, Nancy Brubaker Wentz.
Bud was a graduate of Elkhart High School in Indiana and went on to Western Michigan University where he played football and earned his Bachelors of Science degree. He graduated from dental school at Indiana University in the class of 1962. During dental school, he completed his Army Ranger training and became the first Ranger in the United States Dental Corps. He later went on to complete a two-year residency program in orthodontics and become a board- certified orthodontist. He spent 30 years in the United States Army and retired as Colonel. During his time in the Army, he served as the Orthodontic Consultant to the Surgeon General and started the orthodontic residency program for the army. He was awarded the Legion of Merit award, a medal designated for highest meritorious service, the Army commendation medal, and the National Defense Service medal. As a colonel in the Army, he always encouraged everyone to do their best. He had a competitive streak and would often challenge new recruits to “Pull Up” contests, quarter mile runs, and to max the PT test. His dental clinic was the only one on post surrounded by tomato plants for his intra-clinic tomato growing contest. His clinic often displayed the coveted racquetball trophy made of Pepsi cans as the centerpiece of the dental clinic waiting room.
His love for orthodontics was contagious, inspiring all three of his children to follow in his footsteps. He naturally displayed a strong work ethic and was often quoted as saying “Happiness is a job well done,” or “Work like what you do will last forever and play like there is no tomorrow.”
What the Colonel was best known for, however, was not his accomplishments, but what he did to pour into the lives of others. He often said that life was about relationships. He always drove a used pickup truck and was no respecter of social status or finances. He was, however, a respecter of character, action, loyalty, and friendship. He was often quoted as saying “Talk is cheap,” “Actions speak louder than words,” or “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
18 ½ years ago, the Colonel, as his grandkids called him, had a massive brain stem stroke and was diagnosed with “locked in syndrome.” He was 100% cognitive but could not breathe, move or talk, only able to blink his eyes in response to questions. He was a prisoner in his own body. Within a year’s time however, he convalesced into a quadriplegic mute and could communicate with a pen light laser on a ball cap and an alphabet board. His wife Nancy took care of him at home with the help of Jim Miller, Gloria Miller and many other amazing caregivers. Upon Nancy’s passing, his son Ed Wentz and daughter, Holly Reeves of Lubbock, Texas and their families with the help of caregivers Kelly Teeter and Olga Torrez cared for him in their homes for the last three years. During this time, he enjoyed hunting and fishing with handicap modification devices he could work with his mouth, gardening, raising chickens and reading. He never complained and had a contagious zest for life. He loved to get up early and was often quoted as saying “You’re burning daylight” or “Carpe Diem.” His wisdom was instrumental in the lives of all he touched. He never complained about his situation but always seemed to help everyone else in their “story Problems.” He was a great listener and encourager always believing in and bringing out the best in all who he came in contact with. He was a natural leader; when asked what it took to be a good leader; he would not hesitate but would spell out with his ball cap: “Take care of your troops.”
His surviving family just wanted to express their thankfulness during his time for prayers and support, as well as express their gratitude for the example of wisdom and leadership shown by their dad, and even as a quadriplegic mute, for always taking care of his troops.
Memorial services will be Saturday, December 16th at 11:00 A.M. at Hartzler-Gutermuth-Inman Funeral Home in Elkhart, Indiana.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Colonel Memorial fund set up at ABC bank 82/Indiana in order to bless his caregivers with the care of their grandchildren.