Wendlandt, Lewis Ervin-April 20, 2012
Lewis Ervin Wendlandt, age 86, of Fort Atkinson, WI passed away on Friday, April 20, 2012 at his home surrounded by his family.
Lew was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin on April 1, 1926, the son of William and Louise (Baganz) Wendlandt.. The family moved to Plymouth, Wisconsin when Lew was a small child. He grew up in Plymouth and attended the local schools there. He served his country in the U.S. Navy from July 1944 until July 1946 during WWII, seeing duty in Okinawa and the South Pacific on the LST-973. Upon his return from the service, Lew worked with his father in the interior and exterior decorating business.
On May 7, 1949, Lew eloped to Waukegan, Illinois and married Mary J. Rusch.
Lew attended the Columbia College of Radio and TV in Chicago, IL under the GI bill.
Lew worked for Sears Roebuck in Kenosha until he took a job as the morning news and sports reporter for a new radio station in Plymouth, WI, WPLY. He then worked at WGEZ in Beloit, WI as the morning news and sports reporter before moving to Fort Atkinson in 1960 to work on the FM Station. The FM Station was not well known in Fort Atkinson, so he moved to WBEL.
In October 1962, Nate Goetz, the owner of Goetz Broadcasting, asked Lew to return to Fort Atkinson to help open the WFAW AM Station. At WFAW, Lew was the “Morning Man”, sports director, and sales executive for 49 1/2 years. He reported on local sports and covered the UW-Warhawks. In 1979, he was honored by the University of Whitewater and the Warhawks and became a member of the Quarterback Club.
During his career, Lew met and interviewed many famous people, including JFK, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bennet Cerf, and Hubert Humphrey. He also met many sports professionals from football, baseball, and racing.
While in Kenosha, Lew was active in Kenosha Little Theater. In Fort Atkinson he was active in FACT, and the Jefferson Council of Performing Arts. Lew was the First General Atkinson in the Fort Atkinson Blackhawk Pageant and played many more roles over the years. He served as President of the CPA and as President of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. He volunteered his help to the City of Jefferson and announced the Gemutlichkeit Parade from the beginning through 2011. He was at one time President of Friedens United Church of Christ in Fort Atkinson, a Sunday School Leader, and a member of the Men’s Brotherhood Group. Presently, Lew is a member of the First United Congregational Church where he served on church boards and sang in the senior choir. He acted in church dramas, served as an usher, scripture reader, and a greeter, In 1964-65, Lew and Mary served as co-presidents of the Fort Atkinson Band Boosters. Lew was a longtime member of the Koshkonong Mounds Country Club and he enjoyed playing golf with his friends. He was a longtime Indy 500 spectator, attending races from 1971 through the early 2000′s. In 2008, Lew and his daughter Vicki participated in the Dancing with the Stars fund raising effort.
Surviving are: His Wife: Mary Wendlandt, Fort Atkinson, WI, Four Children: William F. (Jackie) Wendlandt, Iola, WI, Don (Barbara) Wendlandt, Stevens Point, WI, Vicki (Paul) Milbrath, Helenville, WI, and Judy (Steve) Behm, Winneconne, WI. Nine Grandchildren: Ruth Wendlandt, Sarah Wendlandt, Mike Wendlandt, Douglas (Kristine) Steinke, Craig (Rachel) Steinke, Katherine Trieloff, Ryan (Dawn) Trieloff, Lane Hollenberger, and Ethan Hollenberger, Great Grand Children: Jessica, Abby, & Matthew Steinke and Step Great Grand Child: Ethan Plens, and Sister-in-Law: Gloria Wendlandt, California. He is further survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Lew was preceded in death by his parents, a daughter Kathryn Louise Wendlandt who died in 1950 shortly after her birth, and two brothers: Harold C. Wendlandt and William E. Wendlandt.
Funeral Services will be held Wednesday, April 25, 2012, at 11:00 AM at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 31 W. Milwaukee Street, Fort Atkinson,WI 53538 with Rev. Chris Buckingham Taylor officiating. Burial with military rites will be in the Evergreen Cemetery, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
Visitation will be from 4-8PM on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at the First Congregational Church, Fort Atkinson and after 10AM on Wednesday at church until the time of the services.
Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider a memorial to the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Fort Atkinson or to Rainbow Hospice of Jefferson, WI.
The Nitardy Funeral Home, Fort Atkinson is assisting the family