NESS CITY — Vernon Lawrence Stenzel, age 96, firstborn son of Olinda and Victor Stenzel, and loving husband of his deceased wife, Delma Stenzel, passed away April 21, 2016 in Ness City.
Vernon was born on Feb. 21, 1920, in Big Creek Township in Russell. His parents, and their three boys, moved to a farm north of Bazine when Vernon was in high school. While attending Bazine High School, he played football, basketball and baseball, but was most proud of his undefeated football team his senior year. Vernon was considered one of the best blocking backs in the district.
He married Delma Bondurant, also a 1938 graduate of Bazine High School, in a small home wedding on Aug. 7, 1941. They rented a farmhouse west of Bazine until 1950 when they moved into their new home in Ness City. They raised four children: Karen Brown of Long Beach, Calif.; Bonnie Legg (Joseph) of Niantic, Conn.; Rick Stenzel (Deb) of Ness City; Patti Pfannenstiel (Tim) of Salina.
Continuing in his father’s farming tradition, Vernon raised grain and cattle to provide for his family. However, his interests went far beyond time operating his farm. As a carpenter, he built his home and helped remodel others; as a fisherman, he built a 14-foot Chris Craft boat and collected an array of fishing gear; as an athlete, he played baseball, was on a bowling team, pitched horseshoes, hunted game, and danced the two-step, waltz, and polka with Delma at any opportunity; as a leader and teacher he served as Scoutmaster in local boy scout troop; as a father & grandfather, he watched his children’s and grandchildren’s activities over the years. Throughout their lives he and Delma took every opportunity to fish, camp, and play cards with family and friends. After retiring, they spent even more time enjoying their favorite activities extending into the winter months at lakes in Arizona and Texas. At one point Delma & Vernon were named “Winter Texan king and queen” at a local celebration in Zapata, Texas.
Vernon demonstrated his love of immediate and extended family by his warm, welcoming, and fun-loving spirit. He seemed never to lose patience when teaching children, grandchildren, and hired help. He displayed decisiveness and confidence when making decisions, thus becoming a treasured confidant and role model for his family. To this day, the family keeps this spirit alive by gathering for many reunions and celebrations.
In addition to Vernon & Delma’s four children, they were blessed with nine grandchildren: Steven Brown, Stephanie Kenny, Kirsten Aghen, Jeffrey Legg, Elizabeth Maes, Andrew Stenzel, James Stenzel, Dusty Pfannenstiel, Josh Pfannenstiel, and 23 great grandchildren.
Delma, his wife of 74 years, his brother Richard Stenzel, and sister-in-law Irene Stenzel, all of Ness City predeceased Vernon. He is survived by his brother, Ralph, and his sister-in-law, Joanne Stenzel, both of Ness City.
Vernon’s “epitaph” in the 1938 Senior Yearbook reads, “Vernon’s soul has taken wing; his pastime on earth was to swing.” The family is consoled with the beautiful memories of him, his deep love for all of us, and the vision of Mom and Dad dancing in heaven.
Friends may call on Saturday, April 23, from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. at Fitzgerald Funeral Home, Ness City. Family visitation will be Sunday from 7-9 p.m. at the funeral home. The funeral service is at 3 p.m. Monday at the United Methodist Church followed by a light reception.
Memorial gifts may be made to United Methodist Church or Cedar Village Long Term Care.
Funeral arrangements provided by
Fitzgerald Funeral Home*
P.O. Box 96
Ness City, KS 67560
Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, April 24, 2016