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  • Obituary

Francis L Wendt

December 23, 1937 - February 28, 2024

Francis L Wendt, 86, Osawatomie, Kansas, passed away on February 28, 2024, at AdventHealth Hospital, Ottawa, Kansas.

Francis was born December 23, 1937, in Spring Hill, Kansas, to Max Charles and Lucretia (Berkshire) Wendt. He grew up in Spring Hill and graduated from Spring Hill High School with the Class of 1956. Francis participated in several school organizations, including Student Council and Kays. However, his passion was athletics, specifically baseball, track and football serving as captain of the football team and named football king his senior year. 

Francis was invited to become a member of a professional baseball minor league team or run track for a university. Choosing to remain close to family, he chose track and used an athletic scholarship to attend the Kansas State Teachers College, now known as Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KS. Francis was a multi-year letterman helping his college track team earn numerous track & field championships and awards, including Conference Champions in 1958. He ran on several relays and helped his teammates set several meet records at track & field meets spanning from the historic Drake Relays, Des Moines, Iowa, to the Texas Relays, Austin, Texas. Individually, Francis is listed as one of the Pitt State Track & Field Outdoor All-Conference Performers: 1957 – 440 yd. & 1960 – 440 yd. & mile relay. 

After a successful track career and graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 1960, Francis accepted his first teaching and coaching position in Weston, Missouri, teaching social studies and physical education and coaching track. In 1964, Francis was named a teacher and coach for USD #367 – Osawatomie Public Schools, where he would remain for the next 31 years. He began teaching physical education, English, and civics, and coached track at the junior high school. With track as the only sport offered at the time in junior high, Francis was instrumental in helping to create athletic programs for junior high students. In 1966, Francis was named Osawatomie’s driver education teacher, a position he held for 30 years and likely remembered by thousands of Osawatomie High School graduates. In 1973, he moved to the high school as a physical education teacher and coach, while continuing to teach driver education.

During his three decades as head track coach, Osawatomie repeatedly produced top teams at league and regional track & field meets and sent countless individual athletes and teams to the annual Kansas State Track & Field Meet in Wichita. Under Coach Wendt’s leadership, OHS celebrated success week after week at spring track & field meets. His teams won numerous league and regional championships with several back-to-back championship seasons. After his retirement in 1996, the annual Osawatomie track & field meet was officially named the Francis Wendt Invitational Track Meet capping off a stellar career.

Francis earned a Masters and a Specialist degree from Pittsburg State University. He was a member of several organizations, including the National Teachers Association (NEA) and the Osawatomie Teachers’ Association, serving in 1971 as its President.  

For almost 60 years, Francis and his family managed Wendt Farms, a family farm that produced cattle, hogs, hay and multiple crops. He loved to fish, hunt and grow his own fruit and vegetables in the orchard and garden on the family farm. He enjoyed his tractors, combine, mowers, and other farming equipment. Francis was a hard worker with high expectations for himself, his family, and others. 

For Francis, more important than teaching and coaching was his family and Christian faith. Francis accepted Jesus as his Savior and was baptized in 1957. For over 65 years, Francis served in leadership and other positions as a faithful member of the Church of Christ.

Beginning in Gardner, KS, he often preached on Sunday mornings eventually serving the congregation as a Deacon. He was a frequent guest speaker and Bible teacher at congregational meetings throughout the Kansas City and metro area. In 1978, Francis chose to travel less and commit to starting a new congregation of the Church of Christ in Osawatomie. The Church of Christ, 8th & Main Street, Osawatomie, remains today with Francis holding membership until his passing.

Francis was preceded in death by his parents, four brothers: Charles Wendt, Herbert Wendt, James Wendt, and Dr. Edward Wendt, and one sister, Evelyn Maxine Duncan McVey. Francis is survived by his wife of 67 years, Bonnie, of the home; 5 sons, Daniel (Teri) Wendt, Osawatomie, Dennis (Gail) Wendt, Parker, KS., John (Melody) Wendt, Osawatomie, Dr. Matthew (Dawn) Wendt, Topeka, KS., Ben Wendt, Osawatomie; 10 grandchildren, Derek (April) Wendt of Osawatomie, Traci (Daniel) West of Osawatomie, Sheena (Nick) Albers of Effingham, KS., Carissa (Jarrett) May of Parker, KS., Dr. Johnna (Lee) Costello of Augusta, KS., Jenna (Luke) Catloth of Osawatomie, Dr. Ryan (Madison) Wendt of Omaha, NE., Rachel (Cody) Schlesener of Abilene, KS., Peyton Wendt of Osawatomie & Prestyn Wendt of Osawatomie; 16 great-grandchildren, 3 great-great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and extended family, including 1 sister, Carol (Wayne) Rogers, Clearwater, FL. 

Visitation will be from 9:30-11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 9, followed by a Memorial Service at 11:00 a.m., held at Eddy-Birchard Funeral Home, 203 Main Street, Osawatomie, Kansas. Services will be conducted by Evangelist Richard Sparks and Brother Kevin Ferguson, Churches of Christ.   

Burial will be at Osawatomie Cemetery, Osawatomie, Kansas, immediately following.

Memorials may be made to the Francis Wendt Memorial Fund, this memorial will help local athletes in need. 

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