Chaplain Ernest F. Wentzel, 80, former director of the Synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces, died of a heart attack Aug. 31 in Maryville, Ill. A funeral service was held Sept. 4 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Collinsville, Ill.
Chaplain Wentzel, of Collinsville, led the Synod’s armed forces ministry from 1995 to 1996. From 1973 to 1991 he served as counselor for the Synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces and director of its Ministry by Mail program, and following that, he served the Lutheran Church Extension Fund as area vice president for the LCMS Southern Illinois District.
He retired from Army chaplaincy in 1973 after 20 years of service.
His awards and decorations include the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in the Dominican Republic, a Vietnam combat medal, a Bronze Star medal, a Meritorious Service Medal, and the Master Parachutist Badge.
“Ernie was a bright light and a constant mentor to many of our chaplains throughout difficult days in our nation’s history,” said Chaplain Mark F. Schreiber, current director of the LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces (MAF). “He was an ardent supporter of MAF and always ready with a supportive and caring word. Ernie will be greatly missed.”
Survivors include Chaplain Wentzel’s wife, Shirley, and four children: Charles (Jana) and Ruth (Chip) Bauer of Collinsville; Peter of Minneapolis; and Paul (Trina) of St. Paul, Minn.
Memorials may be made to the LCMS Armed Forces Ministry; Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; or Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Collinsville.
Posted Sept. 30, 2009