Wendell Durlam, 1922 – 2020

Wendell Jesse (Rex) Durlam was born on January 7, 1922, in Jefferson. He was one of 10 children born to Mike and Faye Durlam. Wendell passed away peacefully on April 13, 2020, at the age of 98.

A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Wendell grew up in Jefferson and had many adventures with his twin brother Wayne. He graduated from Jefferson High School in 1941. After graduation Wendell worked at Frye Electric Store in Jefferson, but then World War II broke out and he joined the army. He served for over three years in the army, much of the time on Guadalcanal working in a Heavy Automotive Maintenance Company as an electrician.

After the war Wendell returned to Jefferson and on June 30, 1946, was married to Phyllis Smith, the love of his life. He then attended Iowa State University for one year before returning to Jefferson to start Durlam Brothers Electric with his twin brother. He was in that business until his retirement in 1984.

Wendell and Phyllis were wonderful parents to their four children. They were later blessed with 11 grandchildren and 25 great- grandchildren. Wendell often expressed his joy at having such a loving family and his family treasured time spent with him.

Wendell enjoyed many activities during his life. He loved fishing, including dozens of trips to Lake of the Woods in Canada and many days at Lake Panorama. Wendell took up woodworking after his retirement and made many beautiful items for his family and friends to treasure. He was an avid Cribbage player and taught the game to many family members. His large group of friends were an important part of Wendell’s life and there were so many good times spent with them. As all his friends and family know, Wendell was an amazing storyteller and had an epic sense of humor. Some of you may have been lucky enough to have received a musical birthday greeting with Wendell on his harmonica and Phyllis doing the vocals!

Wendell was a beloved son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend. Those left to remember his love and devotion include his sons Chris and his wife Janet and Jeff and his wife Sue , all of Jefferson, and Brian and his wife Jodi of Cambridge; daughter Nancy Gerken and her husband John of Jefferson; grandchildren Grace (Andrew) Even, Zack (Eryn) Durlam, Matthew (Laura Podolsky) Gerken, Tate (Chas Haworth )Durlam, Melissa (Matt) Janssen, Emily (Ryan) Helming, Mandy (Tanner) Stoner, Sara (Brett) Hames, Jessica (Dan) Woodley, Alex (Nikki) Durlam, and Nicole (Jon) Sage; and great-grandchildren Jeremiah Even, Noah and Micah Durlam, Jilly, Addy, and Kylie Janssen, Ava, Trevin and Harper Helming, Tegan, Mallie, and Tage Stoner, Isaac, Simeon, and Chloe Harmsen, Jonas, Matt and Sam Woodley, Hayden and Huxton Durlam, and Brinn, Claire, Nora Jo, and Abigail Sage. He is also survived by sisters Lois Veach and Mary Lynch, and sisters-in-law Jo Durlam and Trudy Goettsch; as well as nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends.

Preceding Wendell in death were his wife Phyllis, great-granddaughter Joanna Grace Woodley, his parents, six brothers, one sister, one brother-in-law, several sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. All were very dear to him.

The family asks that memorials be directed to the Salvation Army, Greene County Christian Action Resource Center, or any charity of choice.

Slininger-Schroeder Funeral Home is assisting the family. Online condolences may be sent to www.sliningerschroeder.com

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