Send a Sympathy Card
Plant Memorial Trees
Send a Sympathy Gift
Donald R. Wenner of Bucyrus died peacefully at home on September 29, 2020, at the age of 100 after a long battle with prostate cancer.
Donald was born on August 15, 1920, in Sycamore to Lawrence and Nora Wenner; the family soon moved to Carey. After graduating from Carey High School, he attended Miami University for two years, then transferred to Ohio State University and entered medical school. While at OSU he met nursing student Margaret “Peg” Noble (deceased); Don graduated from medical school and married Peg in September, 1944. They had four children: Steven, Becky, Susan and Craig (deceased). Donald had four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Donald packed his long and productive life with an astounding variety of professional, personal, civic and philanthropic accomplishments. And in everything he did he was an inspiration for everyone who knew him. He took great joy in life, was intensely curious about many things and pursued all his activities with enthusiasm. Most of all, he loved and cared for his family, and found deep comfort in his religious faith.
After graduation from OSU, Donald was called to active duty and applied for a Navy commission. He served at Long Beach Naval Hospital and examined sailors being discharged. He had great admiration for the sailors - most had been aboard ships in the South Pacific for more than three years, without liberty or getting into port. Many had medical problems, but they said, “Just let me go home, doctor. I’ll take care of it later.”
After 15 months, Don returned to civilian life. He had a one-year internal medicine residency at Deaconess Hospital in Cincinnati before setting up private practice in Bucyrus with a 35-bed hospital. He was called back to active duty in the Navy in October 1952, during the Korean War.
Wenner served aboard the USS Windom Bay CVE 92 as the ship’s doctor. On the second day out, he diagnosed a man with acute appendicitis. They were in a mild storm. The ship was pitching considerably, which worried him because of the spinal anesthetic for the operation. The patient had to keep his head down, otherwise the anesthetic would have flowed to the brain. The captain turned the ship so they would roll and not pitch. The operation went well (Don’s first surgical procedure), except that his assistant (the ship’s dentist) got nauseated and had to drop out.
When Wenner was called to active duty in the Korean War, he felt sorry for himself, leaving his wife at home with two children and debts on a house and office. Later, onboard ship, he met a man who had been taken prisoner by the Japanese in the Philippines. Dr. Wenner lost his self-pity when comparing that sailor’s suffering to his own, and later in life was grateful that he was able to serve his country and took pride in being a veteran. He was discharged in May 1954 and returned to his practice of family medicine and anesthesiology in Bucyrus.
Doctor Wenner had a very eclectic medical practice. He started off mostly in general practice, but with an emphasis in OB/GYN, delivering hundreds of babies over the years. But he branched out, studying to become the principal anesthesiologist in town. Later still, he took more courses to become the local expert in cardiology. His son, Steve, remembers Dad coming home many times late from the office, and after dinner spending the evening with chart paper and dividers analyzing his patients’ EKGs by hand (now-a-days this is done by computer!).
Doctor Wenner loved practicing medicine, and missed that part of his life after retirement in 1990. However, he never entirely stopped; until the end of his live he continued to subscribe to medical journals and read up on the latest research. His last patient examination was on his son, Steve, who complained of an embarrassing problem in early 2020. Dad donned a latex glove and proceeded to give Steve a rectal exam, and concluded that his son was making a mountain out of a molehill (or something like that).
Don enjoyed many leisure activities and hobbies. He was an avid cyclist; for many years he rode the annual 210-mile Mother’s Day weekend Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV) between Columbus and Portsmouth. In 1976 he and Peg rode from the coast of Oregon to Colorado as part of the Bike Centennial Tour to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence; ten years later Don completed the tour from Colorado to the coast of Virginia, accompanied by his sons and nephew, Jacques.
Wenner was an enthusiastic fisherman, sometimes treating his family to camping and fishing vacations, other times flying into the Canadian bush with his buddies. Another sport he played frequently over his life was golf, and he greatly enjoyed the comradery of knocking little balls around hill and dale with his friends.
A great Buckeye fan, Don had season tickets at OSU for over 25 years and was proud that his family has four generations, including his dad, who attended college there.
Wenner developed a strong interest in genealogy, and researched his family tree back hundreds of years. He was very proud of his 200-page book: “Wenner-Moser and Allied Families 2013.” A copy is at the Bucyrus Library and Ohio Genealogical Society library in Bellville. For many years he was also a regular volunteer assisting the staff and patrons at the genealogy library.
Wenner had a knack for combining his personal interests with community service and philanthropy. For instance, examples of his woodworking skills are scattered all around Bucyrus, from the Little Libraries in the parks, to display cases for the Bucyrus Historical Society and handcrafted paneling in the restored Bucyrus Railroad Depot.
Wenner was a community philanthropist in many ways. He paid for the installation of the sidewalk along Oakwood Cemetery. He established The Donald and Margaret Wenner Scholarship Fund for the Community Foundation for Crawford County. He served on the board of the Crawford County Genealogy Society and gave a generous donation to digitize Telegraph-Forum newspapers.
He was a member of Bucyrus Kiwanis and helped with club projects. He volunteered for Meals on Wheels with his daughter Becky. In 2017, Wenner served as the grand marshal of the Bratwurst Festival. He volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and, as a member St. Paul Lutheran Church, he built the communion altar with hand-carving. He served on the Bucyrus School Board and was a leader in the effort to build the new high school. He was a founding member of the “Rusty Zippers” coffee club, a group of citizens who met daily to solve the city’s (and the world’s!) problems.
At Christmas 2006, Craig, his youngest son, and wife Patricia Wenner lost their lives by drowning in the Stillwater River. Patricia slipped into the water and was swept over a small dam. Craig, a certified lifeguard, jumped in to save her. They left two daughters behind. In 2008, Craig was given the Hero Award by the Carnegie Foundation for his attempted rescue.
The Wenner family knows that many would want to show their love and respect for this much-admired member of our community; but, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the funeral will be held for family members only. He will be inurned next to Peg in the Columbarium at Oakwood Cemetery.
For those who wish to donate to a cause in his memory, the family suggests that contributions be made payable to one of their father’s favorite charities: St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, The Community Foundation for Crawford County, The Ohio Genealogical Society, or the Crawford County Council on Ageing. These gifts can be sent to Wise Funeral Service, 129 W. Warren St., Bucyrus, Ohio 44820. Memories and photos are encouraged on Dr. Wenner’s tribute page at www.wisefuneral.com.