Gary Wentzel Obituary
 
In Memory of

Gary Lee Wentzel

October 12, 1953 - February 17, 2017
Obituary

Gary Lee Wentzel was born to Betty Elaine and Norman Allen Wentzel in Crookston, Minnesota October 12th, 1953. He joined proud big brother and lifetime protector Mark Allen to complete their family of 4. In 1955, at the age of 2, Gary moved West with his family in an old Plymouth and a homemade trailer. They had all they owned with them and no real plans for what life in Washington was going to look like. They landed in Burien, WA and as a family, quickly settled into their new life. They enjoyed exploring the lakes and trails of Washington State. Camping and fishing were a big part of their weekends. Many Summers included return...
Gary Lee Wentzel was born to Betty Elaine and Norman Allen Wentzel in Crookston, Minnesota October 12th, 1953. He joined proud big brother and lifetime protector Mark Allen to complete their family of 4. In 1955, at the age of 2, Gary moved West with his family in an old Plymouth and a homemade trailer. They had all they owned with them and no real plans for what life in Washington was going to look like. They landed in Burien, WA and as a family, quickly settled into their new life. They enjoyed exploring the lakes and trails of Washington State. Camping and fishing were a big part of their weekends. Many Summers included return trips to visit extended family in Minnesota.

In his youth, Gary learned a lot from his parents about hard work including, taking care of cars and things around the house. With the help of his dad and brother, he put skills to use in fixing up and then cruising some pretty hot cars as a teenager. Gary graduated from Thomas Jefferson H.S. in 1972, the year that he took his sweet bride-to-be Melinda on their first date. Their young love started when she was only 16 and he was 18. Yes, he was the senior guy that went after his friend's little sister. After two years of dating Melinda while attending Highline Community College, Gary went to Central Washington University and graduated with a degree in business. In 1976, two weeks after graduation, he joined the Professional Adjusters' of Washington/Allied Pacific Adjusting group alongside his dad, and eventually became a partner, working there until 2004. Later that year, Gary started his own business, Rainier Claims Service. He particularly loved his firetruck claims through VFIS. He enjoyed driving all over the state on claims and occasionally flying around the country. Melinda and the kids all have memories of special trips with Dad on his claims. He truly became recognized as an expert in the field.

Gary was a true problem-solver with practical solutions to all types of problems. His advice was sought by many. Gary could guide you home from any road, with a detailed map of Washington in his brain. Many people relied on him to help them navigate. He was the GPS before there was GPS.

He married the love of his life, Melinda, on August 26th, 1978. After honeymooning in Banff & Lake Louise, they were excited to come home to their first house right next to the Auburn City Park. They had been given the keys to it while on their honeymoon. Their 5 newlywed years included many fun weekends away, family time,and loving on their growing number of nieces and nephews. Dad was proud of purchasing, remodeling, and becoming landlords of Melinda's grandparents' downtown Auburn home of 40 years. This was the house her dad grew up in.

After having been a couple for 10 years, they were so thrilled to become parents together with the birth of their first child, Brieanna Marie in 1982. Brie was followed by the birth of their boy Brandon Lee in 1984 and their family was made complete by little sister Brittany Michelle two days before Christmas in 1986. After looking and looking for just the right spot, Melinda and Gary purchased Mt. Rainier view property on Lea Hill, which brought Gary great peace. After a year and 10 months, Gary's dream of building their own home came true, when Melinda and Gary finished construction in the summer of 1987. They enjoyed meeting new neighbors and watching their neighborhood grow into a community they grew to love. The family of five spent time building memories in the their dream home, enjoying holidays and family time.

With his young family in tow, Gary shared his passion for hiking, taking many trips to Mount Rainier. He also shared one of his favorite childhood activities by going on many family trips, fishing the local lakes and in the Puget Sound on Mom and Dad Rice's boat. Working from home allowed Gary to focus a lot of his energy on the kids activities and sporting events. For many years the weekly highlight included Friday night pizza and family time. The house became a haven for friends and family gatherings. Gary invested in people, especially his family.

As the kids got older, he was able to continue to support each kid's interests and was sure to be present at all of their events including assemblies, plays, games, recitals, youth group, and more. Gary was even a good sport about chaperoning many high school dances and YoungLife trips. If it mattered to his kids, he was there. Some memorable trips include; a million visits to Ocean Shores, DisneyLand, Disney World, camping with family friends, minivan trip across country to visit his family in Minnesota, family trip to Cabo San Lucas, winter jaunts to Leavenworth, Alaska, and a cruise with Melinda to the Caribbean. He delighted in exploring new places, and he particularly enjoyed his many trips to the Glacier, Montana area speaking about it's beauty. The blessing of countless stays at Mom and Dad Rice's Ocean Shores condo inspired Gary and Melinda to continue this family tradition.

Jon, Abbie, and Tom were each an answer to years of prayer from Melinda and Gary about who their kids would marry. Gary quickly developed close relationships with each of them and cherished seeing his kids cared for so well. He loved his newest three kiddos dearly, as his own. Gary delighted in his three grandchildren and was so thrilled to learn that Brie and Jon have another one on the way. He was a proud grandpa, often amazed by the kids' new growth and milestones. Grandpa's time was spent cuddling, playing on the floor, and reading books aloud. True to his nature, he took time to notice and then patiently explain to them about life's little details. He wore out his camera taking photos of them.

There is no doubt that Gary had a solid relationship with God. He was known to humbly share his faith in his personal relationships with others and by faithfully serving where needed. He was often seen standing to the side, listening one-on-one to share and invest in others. In the past weeks, we have been amazed and blessed by the number of people who have commented on the special relationship they had with Gary and the influence he had in their lives. Gary spent 15 years attending Auburn Free Methodist Church and for the past 12 years has attended Grace Community Church in Auburn. Gary served and supported Auburn Young Life for over 20 years. He never wanted to be up front but was often found encouraging teenagers hanging out in the back, down on his knees wiping up floors after messy games, and ensuring everyone's safety. He was Melinda's biggest support and encouragement in her leadership role and helped guide her vision and heart to reach young people with the Good News of God's love for them. His faith was also encouraged as he watched young people grow in their faith. Gary was typically happy to hang in the background and proudly watch his wife receive recognition for the ways they serve the community. He was never one to desire attention or recognition...always giving credit to his beautiful bride for any achievement or compliment received about the family or kids. "You got that from your Momma," or "Melinda gets the credit for those kids" he would say humbly with pride. Anyone who knew Gary knows it was actually a product of their relationship and love for one another in their 38+ years of marriage. He cherished every little thing about his wife, everything they did was better when they were together.

All who knew Gary will remember him as genuine, kind, thoughtful, reliable, and a great hugger.

Gary will be so missed by his adoring wife Melinda; and their children, Brieanna (Jon) Ahrenholz, Brandon (Abbie) Wentzel, and Brittany (Tom) Egbert. Gary loved his three grandchildren Elliot and Annsley Wentzel and Emersyn Ahrenholz. He is also survived by his brother Mark (Marcia) Wentzel, honorary parents Frank and Charlaine Rice, and Joyce Petersen. Our sweet Gary has now joined his parents in heaven.

A memorial service will be held at Grace Community Church in Auburn on Sunday, March 5 at 3:00pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Auburn Young Life.

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"I still tear up when I remember this dear friend or see his picture. Gary had such a kind, caring and compassionate heart. He really did show everyone he..." DeDe Pree-Houk (South Prairie, WA)

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