Hans Joachim Wend – January 18, 1931 to December 7, 2019
Hans J Wend was born and raised in the rooms above the family owned German Delicatessen in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn New York, the eldest son of German/Polish immigrants, Hans and Sophie. He often jokingly denounced his Polish heritage but was endlessly proud of being German. Hans was no stranger to working hard, being frugal, and having strong personal positions throughout his life which he often shared with those he easily befriended.
Hans and Margaret met on a blind date in Staten Island arranged by her house mother. They were married on December 26, 1953, in Wappingers Falls, New York (the date chosen partially to save the cost of flowers). As he transitioned to good Catholic, a slew of kids followed – Bill, Kathleen, Maureen, Tom, and Jeanie.
Shortly after their marriage, Hans enlisted in the Navy for an active duty tour of 27 months (where he developed his lifelong distaste of denim), went to boot camp in Bainbridge, Maryland and was then in Waukegan, Illinois for the Great Lakes Electronics School. As a Petty Officer 2nd Class he served as an electronics technician aboard a 120-foot minesweeper during the Korean Conflict. During his time in the Navy, he was stationed in Panama City, Florida with frequent voyages to Key West, Charleston South Carolina, and to Cuba. Eventually, Margaret joined him in Florida, working at Tyndall Air Force base as a nurse.
In 1955, Hans graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in business. He leveraged his education as well as his legendary work ethic the same year at the Pillsbury Company where he was employed for over 46 years. Of the time spent there, he missed only one-half day of work. He went to work at the same time every day and was proud of the work that he did. Hans would travel from grocery store to grocery store, first in the New York Metro area and later in New Hampshire, building relationships and winning awards for his creative sales promotions.
Hans and Margaret raised their family in the lovely suburb of Oakland New Jersey,where Hans was known to be proud of being upper middle class. Hans treated his older children to wheelbarrow rides (while they worked to hand pick the rocks out of the soon to be lawn with their visiting cousins), took them to swim in the Ramapo River and ice skating at the industrial park. To assist the community, he volunteered with the Boy Scouts and Explorers where pancake breakfasts at Our Lady of Perpetual Help were legendary. He coached soccer, umpired little league, was a Webelo leader and went on Boy Scout pack 49 canoe trips to the Adirondacks in upstate New York. He helped create a teen center at Mullers Park in Oakland. Hans served proudly on the Oakland Library Board and town Planning Board.
To ensure the family had their needs met, Hans worked two jobs to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. One of his part time jobs was as a carrier manager for the Ridgewood News, a twice weekly paper. It was through that job that he managed to finagle and create a way to take most of the family to Walt Disney World – Hans would chaperone a contest winner. It was during that trip that the carrier who won the contest was introduced to the Wend way of traveling which included an ice chest cooler with milk for cereal for breakfast and a small hot pot to heat water for coffee and to boil hot dogs. Part of the Wend savings plan was to completely avoid meals eaten outside of the home – no McDonalds and no pizza on Friday nights. Saving money and doing without went to an extreme for Hans where two suits and four dress shirts for a five-day work week had to last until they were literally thread bare and the suits had holes in the elbows. It was only then that Hans would ‘break down’ and go shopping for a new suit – always finding the best sale and the best bargains. Those lessons live on in his children and grandchildren today.
The family was raised on a shoestring and it was not until he retired from Pillsbury and paid cash for a Mercedes SUV that the level of his parsimony (his favorite word for being VERY cheap) was known. Yes, all those years of hand me down clothes and seemingly endless ‘barely any meat in there’ casseroles were because he was saving; and saving and saving. The thing found in abundance were cake mixes and pancake mix – because of his work with Pillsbury, there was always a mix or twenty in the cabinet. While he did save, he did so with a purpose. Part of this purpose was to help his children go to college and then subsequently, when his wife Margaret needed more extensive and long-term medical care.
Hans loved Margaret; initially a devout atheist, Hans converted to Catholicism to be able to marry Margaret in the Catholic Church and then he stepped away for almost 50 years. During their time in Oakland, his youngest daughter got quite a scare in grade school when the priest asked her when her father had passed away – the priest had quite literally NEVER seen Hans at Mass so he presumed, given that Margaret was so devout a Catholic, that surely her husband must be dead. Those were a tough few minutes for young Jeanie and for Fr. Ed when he realized his error. Toward the end of his life, Hans found great solace in rejoining and being accepted back into the Catholic Church and he attended Mass regularly.
Craving more open space from Oakland they built a home in Sugar Hill New Hampshire and Hans was transferred (before the house was ready) to New Hampshire in 1989. Hans cut and split many cords of wood in New Hampshire with his parting gift from Pillsbury – a chainsaw. Needing a bit more sunshine, they built a home in Naples Florida and after going back and forth seasonally, settled permanently in Naples in 2000.
After moving to Florida, always a talker who also liked going for a daily walk, Hans found a group of men who met for coffee. However, they met at Starbucks and given that fancy coffee was an unnecessary expense, he stepped next door to grab a 25 cent senior cup of McDonalds coffee and then sat with the group inside Starbucks, with his McDonald’s coffee.
Sadly, while living in Florida, Margaret took ill and needed consistent medical care in an assisted medical facility. Hans was there every single day (except for two days that he was in the hospital himself). The staff at the center referred to them as the ‘love birds’ as they were always holding hands. He nursed her through a long ugly battle with dementia and his care of her honored their vows to the last day of her life. Hans later would return to the same assisted living facility to receive care and be thankful to receive holy communion from the visiting Eucharistic Ministers and welcomed the frequent visits from the pastoral team.
Hans loved to read and his daily routine during his working years always involved dinner at six thirty sharp and then sitting in his chair, reading until he went to bed promptly at eleven. Hans was a voracious reader. He almost always had 8 -10 thick novels next to him. His favorite movie was, “The Hunt for Red October”. He was outgoing and loved people, was always busy/moving and was a long-term planner. When talking about the future, he always said, a week from now, a month from now and so on – teaching his kids to be future thinking and focused.
Hans is predeceased by Margaret, his wife of 63 years and leaves behind his son Bill Wend (Shirley), of Manahawkin, New Jersey, daughter Kathy Saylor (Gary) of Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, daughter Maureen Cirillo (Frank) of Union, Kentucky, son Tom Wend (Donna) of Bradenton, Florida and daughter Jeanie Winstrom (Robert) of Troy, Montana. He also leaves behind his grandchildren: William Wend, Mathew Wend, Anthony Cirillo and Lauren Saylor and great grandchildren: Gabriel Cirillo & Marie Cirillo There are many nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews. Hans was predeceased by his parents, Hans and Sophie (Gebers) Wend and his brother Hugo Wend (Dottie). Fred Wend, his younger brother resides in California with his wife, Amy.
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated by Fr. Orsi on Friday, January 10, 2020, at 11AM in Saint Agnes Church Chapel, Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, Florida. A luncheon will follow at New York Pizza and Pasta, located in the Riverchase Plaza at 11140 Tamiami Trail North in Naples.