Wendell C. Smith
June 7, 1933 — March 7, 2015
Wendell Charles Smith, 81, of the Town of Lebanon, passed away March 7, 2015, at home surrounded by his family. Wendell was born June 7, 1933, in Milwaukee County, to Arthur and Elsie Smith. As he was growing up, he spent many summers at his Aunt Mabel’s fruit and vegetable farm in Onekema, Mich. He crossed Lake Michigan on many different car ferries, including the present Badger car ferry.
After graduating from Bay View High School in Milwaukee, Wendell enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a mineman, stationed in Panama City, Fla., and San Diego, Calif., and served on the U.S. Wasp Aircraft Carrier. He loved to talk about his Navy days. After the service, he worked as a printer in the Waukesha area.
In 1960, he married Karen Abrahamson of Waukesha and they bought their first home in the Town of Delafield, where they raised three children and a lot of different animals — from ranch chinchillas to goats and more. He formed a close friendship with neighbors, Pete Schoeninger and Jim Osborne, spending many evenings playing chess or cribbage.
In 1971, Wendell’s dream (not unlike Oliver Wendell Douglas’) came true when he and his wife Karen bought a farm in the Town of Lebanon. He spent 20-plus years operating a dairy farm. After Wendell retired from farming, he worked at Watertown Memorial Hospital as a courier driver.
Wendell and Karen did a lot of traveling in their camper once they retired. Their biggest trip was to Alaska. They enjoyed many years at their beloved log cabin on the Peshtigo River, canoeing and fishing. Wendell tinkered with model railroads, was an avid reader, and loved the Green Bay Packers. He rarely missed his grandchildren’s sporting events.
Wendell is survived by his wife, Karen, of 54 years; daughter Kim and husband Scott Porzky of Lebanon; daughter Pam Smith and husband Paul Clements of Mosinee; son Jay and wife Rachel (Zietlow) Smith of Lebanon; five grandchildren, Meghan Porzky Peterson and husband Nate Peterson, Jeff Porzky (Kelsey Uhlman), Steven Porzky, Kaitlyn Smith and Jacob Smith, all of Lebanon; one great-grandson, Brantley Peterson; a step-grandson Taylor Clements; two sisters, Donna Petrini of Phoenix and Fayne Haase and her husband Emil of Waukesha; brother-in-law Bill Abrahamson and his wife Kathy; sister-in-law Shirley Abrahamson; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents; in-laws Harold and Alma Abrahamson; brother- in-laws Robert Abrahamson and Armand Petrini; niece Anne Abrahamson; and nephews James Haase and Michael Abrahamson.
There will be a gathering of friends and family held on Sunday, March 15, at Schmutzler-Vick Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 500 Welsh Road, Watertown, from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM, with a memorial service beginning at 2:00 PM. Military rites will be held at the funeral home. Immediately following the service, everyone is invited to Pribnow’s Maple Inn in Ashippun for a celebration of Wendell’s life.
If desired; memorials are suggested to Lebanon Fireman’s Park Improvement or Lebanon EMS.
Schmutzler-Vick Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 920-261-3439, is serving the family. Online condolences may be left at svfuneralhome.com.
Dad always said, “I wouldn’t be who I am today, if not for Coach Matthei of Bay View HS.”