Bill Wendell was born March 20, 1937, to Nicholas William Wendell and Sarah Isabell Parish Wendell in El Centro, California. Bill graduated from Imperial High School and attended classes of interest at El Centro Jr. College and Imperial Valley College. Bill and Patricia Nell Haynie were married in Brawley, California in 1957.
Bill was a young entrepreneur, at age 16, being named Post Press News Carrier of the Year. He participated in high school sports and remained an IHS Tiger fan throughout his life. As a young married man, he delivered fuel to farmers for 12 years until starting his first business, Bill’s Weed Control. At age 21, he joined with his father in serving the community through the volunteer fire department until he served a stint on the Imperial City Council. Bill loved the Blue Angels as they had trained close by every winter from the time he was a young boy in school. He belonged to a small group of local officials intent on persuading the US Naval Department to designate the El Centro Naval Facility as the official Blue Angel Winter Training Facility. They were successful and were rewarded with a trip to the Blue Angels Headquarters in Pensacola, Florida touring Houston Nasa enroute and spending a day on the USS Lexington.
After an injury curtailed his participation in a baseball winter league, Bill coached and umpired both farm and little league teams. Bill had been active in the Imperial Lions Club and Imperial Chamber of Commerce until his businesses overtook his time.
Bill’s Weed Control evolved into Wendell Transport Co. serving the geothermal industry throughout the southwest. Going through the mail one day, there was an envelope addressed to Mr. Geothermal, Imperial Valley, California. He kept the envelope for many years. His employees would say “There’s Bill Wendell’s way or the highway”. Bill never asked an employee to do something he hadn’t done or wouldn’t be willing to do.
Bill loved every aspect of construction. He was very active in the building of new facilities for Wendell Transport Co and Kinda Krafty following the 1979 earthquake. He was a visionary designing several pieces of farm equipment.
Bill was so supportive of his community. He was never able to attend church camp as a child but as an adult helped those who couldn’t afford to go. He loved watching Nick and Karl grow from kids to responsible young adults through Imperial FFA. Bill was among the first to be an Honorary Member of the Imperial FFA and proudly wore his red satin jacket.
After working so hard in the geothermal industry, Bill found a hobby- videography. Way before computer editing was affordable, Bill used to toggle switch for editing as he would use two and three cameras simultaneously. He took a class at Imperial Valley College in Videography. Before the final session, the instructor asked Bill to teach the class one night in toggle switching. He and the instructor became great friends. Together Bill and Pat gifted many friends with a wedding video.
Bill was invited to a Colorado River Tour with the IID. He was the only non-farm, non-politician in the group.
He so often had a new pastor’s joke that was dubbed the pastor’s pest.
Retirement- Bill and Pat spent several months upgrading their Imperial home before moving to Utah to be closer to younger grandchildren. When asked why they moved to Utah, he would respond “1-800-GRANDMA became too expensive”. During the purchase process of a four-wheel drive vehicle, Bill found himself with a part-time job moving Hertz cars throughout Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. He did this for several years, enjoying every minute of it, making new friends along the way. Thirteen years ago, Pat wanted to buy a 1979 white VW convertible in which to tootle around town. That didn’t last long – Bill cleaned it up and took the yellow Cool Car to many car shows, sometimes 40 shows a year from mid-April to mid-October. There again, making new friends.
After so many hospital stays, he knew most of the nurses and they all knew him. No matter how ill, he always had a good sense of humor and pulled practical jokes whenever he had the opportunity.
Through it all he was supportive of his family, caring for elderly members of both his and Pat’s families. Whatever occupation or project in which Pat was involved, Bill was right there helping her. He encouraged his sons to follow their dreams, whether or not he agreed with their choices.
He enjoyed Southern Gospel music with “I’ll Fly Away” being his very favorite. One of his last sentences related to seeing a fly and indicating that he’d fly away.
Bill Wendell is survived by his wife, Pat; sons, Nick (Robin) of Kingman, AZ and Karl (Merilee) of Pleasant View, UT. He is also survived by grandchildren, Rob, Matt, Brynn, Makelle, and Tyler Wendell; and great-grandchildren Vance, Ava, Audrey, Nataleigh, Seamus, Bo, Lane, and Koty.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Bill and Isabell Wendell and his sister, Betty Wendell Fowler.
Memorial Services will be held at Canyon Road Assembly of God Church in Ogden on Tuesday, March 26th at 6:00 pm. Interment will follow at a later date in El Centro, CA.
Services under the direction of Leavitt’s Mortuary.
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