Lela Ruth Wenger, 92, of Hesston passed away on Jan. 26, 2022, at Schowalter Villa after an extended illness.
Lela was born on Aug. 7, 1929, to George Ezra Bentch and Minnie Opal (McDavitt) Bentch in Lick Creek, Mo. Lela was the third child in a family of five children. She spent her childhood years living on the family farm, attending Lick Creek Elementary School and graduating from Versailles High School in 1947.
Lela married Paul Wenger on Sept. 19, 1948, at Mt Zion Mennonite Church, Versailles, Mo. Between the years of 1949-1960, while living in Missouri, they were blessed with three daughters, Barbara, Twila and Donna, and one son, Dwayne.
In 1964, the Wenger family moved to Hesston, became members of Hesston Mennonite Church and were active in the church for many years. Lela spent her early married years raising their children until she began working at Schowalter Villa in 1968. Lela served the Villa residents for 25 years, retiring in 1993. Many residents and their families were touched by Lela’s special way of caring with compassion and love. Lela herself became a resident at Schowalter Villa and several current employees told the family how meaningful Lela had been to them in their beginning years working at the Villa. In Lela’s early retirement years, she and Paul enjoyed traveling together and took many trips visiting family and friends.
The joy of Lela’s life was her family. Lela loved to read books to her grandchildren and always had time for them to come visit at their home. Lela was a wonderful cook and often had family over for delicious meals. It was very special for Lela to make cookies with her granddaughters. Lela and Paul always looked forward to visits from their grandsons who lived out of state. Lela loved flowers and her family enjoyed seeing her flower and rock gardens in the summer. As her grandchildren became older, she enjoyed attending their school activities and sporting events. Lela had a strong influence on her children and grandchildren’s spiritual lives. She spent many hours praying for her family.
Lela and Paul celebrated 69 years of marriage before Paul passed away. They have been blessed with many happy years together and were enriched with the love of God and family. Throughout Lela’s life, her faith in God was strong, which she passed on to her family. At the age of 92, after living a full life, Lela was ready to join her Lord and Savior in Heaven.
Lela was preceded in death by her husband, Paul H. Wenger; grandson, Scott Thomas; parents Ezra and Opal Bentch; brothers Don (Mary Louise) Bentch and C.E. (Betty) Bentch; and sisters Glendola (Roy) Wenger and Eunice (Quintin) Lehman.
Lela is survived by children Barb (Lew) Thomas of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Twila (Jeff) Snowden of Fort Collins, Colo., Dwayne (Brenda) Wenger of Hesston and Donna (Romney) Heinrichs of Hesston; grandchildren Shawn (Abby) Thomas of Olympia, Wash., Cary Snowden (fiancé Marissa Marr) of Stafford, Va., Kendall (Emily) Wenger of Rockingham, Va., Lance (Kristin) Wenger of Rockingham, Va., Alicia (Shane) Showalter of Singers Glen, Va., Andrew Heinrichs of Hesston and Katrina Heinrichs of Hesston; and five great-grandchildren.
A private family graveside service will be at Eastlawn Cemetery in the coming months. Memorials will go to Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice, which provided loving care for both Paul and Lela in their last days, in care of Miller-Ott Funeral Home, P.O. Box 32, Hesston, Kan., 67062.