William Arthur Wendt, 80, a retired U.S. Navy Commander and retired ELCA Lutheran Pastor, passed away January 11th at home in Oakdale, Minnesota.
Born in Luverne, Minnesota to William E. Wendt and Dolores M. Johnson. “Bill” attended the University of Minnesota and transferred to South Dakota State University before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1962. Following basic training, and service in Iceland, he was selected for the Naval Cadet program for Aviation. He graduated with a degree in Language Arts in 1971 from the University of West Florida. He met Marilyn Ann Swan, RN, while stationed in San Diego; they were married in 1967.
During his naval career, Wendt served as a helicopter pilot earning his Navy wings in 1965. He retired from the U.S. Navy at the rank of Lieutenant Commander, having merited the Air Medal with One Star, the Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with Five Stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. Wendt served aboard multiple aircraft carriers and other ships of the Navy fleet. He served as a pilot for the Admiral of the Seventh Fleet, search and rescue, and mine sweeping. Following his Vietnam service, he served as a flight instructor and retired in 1983 ending his Naval service as the Chief Flight Operations and Commander of DCASPRO Hayes in Dothan, Alabama.
Upon retirement from the U.S. Navy, he felt the call to ministry in the Lutheran Church. Earning his Master of Divinity from Wartburg Theological Seminary in 1987 and his Doctor of Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary in 2002. He served his internship year from 1985-1986, at Luther Valley Lutheran Church in Beloit, Wisconsin. Bill was ordained in 1987. He served ELCA congregations in Boyceville and Wheeler, Wisconsin (Trinity and Our Savior’s Lutheran Churches) and Mondovi, Wisconsin (Drammen and Pleasant Valley Lutheran Churches). During his ministry he enjoyed also serving as needed as a Hospice Chaplain. He retired from ministry in 2014.
Bill is remembered as a kind servant leader and excellent listener. He was devoted to his faith, his country, and his family. He was the cherished husband of Marilyn Ann Wendt of Balaton, Minnesota. Proud father of Jennifer (Todd) Muellner of Woodbury, Minnesota, and Sarah Ashouri of Woodbury. He was a loving grandfather to Asal Ashouri of Woodbury and step-grandfather to Todd Hickethier of Woodbury and Mathew Muellner of White Bear Lake. He is preceded in death by his parents, sister-in-law and son-in-law and survived by 2 sisters and a brother. He was a devoted pet parent to Rudy, his long-haired dachshund and many well-loved dogs over the years. He is greatly missed by those he left behind.
Memorial Services will be held on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, 11:00 A.M. at King of Kings Lutheran Church, 1583 Radio Drive, Woodbury, Minnesota with visitation one hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bill’s memory to the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin for wells in Malawi and to the memorial fund at King of Kings Lutheran Church in Woodbury, Minnesota.