J. Rodney Wendell

Celebration of Life Services for J. Rodney Wendell will be held on Monday, November 2, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. at the Kearney Evangelical Free Church in Kearney, Nebraska with Pastor Matt Snell officiating.  A private interment will follow at the Keene Cemetery, Keene, Nebraska.  

Due to health concerns, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, current CDC and Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services guidelines for Faith-Based Services and Gatherings will be followed.  The Wendell family sincerely encourages each person to make their decision whether to attend Rodney’s services, based on the best interest of your health, and that of your community.  The Celebration of Life Service will be live-streamed via the Nelson-Bauer Funeral Home Facebook page.

J. Rodney Wendell, 91 years of age, went to be with the Lord on October 13, 2020, following a hospitalization and short stay at Good Samaritan Society – St. John’s in Kearney.  Joseph Rodney Wendell was born on April 6, 1929, to Joseph and Vera (Palmblade) Wendell, on their farm south of Axtell, Nebraska.  He attended District 44 Country School and then attended and graduated from Axtell High School.  He furthered his education at Wheaton College in Illinois and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Nebraska State Teachers College in Kearney.  Rodney later received his Master’s Degree from Kearney State College.

On June 12, 1952, Rodney was united in marriage to Delores M. Gustafson at Monroe Evangelical Free Church near Phillips, Nebraska.  The couple made their home in Keene, where they raised three daughters.  In 2019, Rodney began to make his home at Chrisoma West Independent Living in Holdrege.

Rodney taught music in several districts. He was dedicated to teaching students in the Axtell Community School from 1950-1994, where he developed a quality music program.  He enjoyed teaching organ, piano, instrumental, and voice, privately, as well as, adjudicating music contests. Through the years of Rodney’s contributions to music, he was inducted into the Nebraska Music Educators Association’s Hall of Fame; bestowed: the Kearney Hub Freedom Award; and the Dr. Gary Thomas Distinguished Music Alumnus Award; and belonged to honorary and professional organizations.  

His love to share music inspired him to create the Axtell Mastersingers in 1950.  In 1958, Rodney was inspired by the scripture message of George Frideric Handel’s, Messiah, which led him to directing the oratorio for over sixty years.  An important part of Rodney’s life was serving at the Keene Evangelical Free Church, as an organist/pianist for over seventy years; directing the choir; and serving on the church board.  He also served on the Christian Homes Board in Holdrege; the Kearney Community Concert Board, since its inception; and belonged to the Holdrege Swedish Club.  

Most of all, he loved spending time with his family; following his grandchildren’s activities; and his great-grandchildren brought him great joy.  Rodney loved engaging and sharing memories with friends and community.

He was preceded in death by: his parents; wife, Delores; brother, Dwight (Doris) Wendell; two sisters:  Ann (Jim) Jones; and Ruth (Eldon) Lundberg; and two sons-in-law:  Scott Wells and Jerry Wheeler.

Those left to cherish his memory include:  his three daughters:  Andrea Wheeler of Axtell, formerly of Muskegon, Michigan; Celeste Wells; and Stephanie Anderson and her husband, Tom; seven grandchildren:  Matthew Wells and wife, Sara; Michelle (Wells) Jura and husband, Dusty; Jon Anderson; Marcus Anderson and wife, Brittney; Mitchell Anderson and wife, Paige; and Ryan Anderson and wife, Madeline, all of Axtell; and Jerrod Wheeler, and wife, Leeann of Omaha, Nebraska; 11 great-grandchildren:  Nolan, Adelyn, and Harrison Wells; Eva, Jude and Eli Jura; Jack and Caroline Anderson; Vanna, Jay and Ace Anderson; and much anticipated great-grandbaby in December 2020; along with nieces, nephews, other relatives, many musicians, and friends.

Visitation will be held on Sunday, November 1, 2020 from 2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Keene Evangelical Free Church in Keene.

A memorial has been established in Rodney’s honor and kindly suggested to the family for later designation.  

Expressions of caring and kindness can be sent to the family at www.nelsonbauerfh.com

The Nelson-Bauer Funeral Home in Holdrege is in charge of the arrangements.