Phoebe G. Wendler Obituary

Phoebe G.   Wendler
Phoebe G. Wendler

November 10, 1919 - October 19, 2019
Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Resided in Saginaw, Michigan
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Beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and aunt passed away peacefully at Westcourt on Saturday, October 19, 2019. She was 99 years old. Phoebe Gardner was born on November 10, 1919, the youngest of four children, to the late Jay and Ethel (Meyers) Gardner. She was truly musically gifted; at the age of five, she was singing for the soldiers at the Grand Rapids Soldiers home and at ten she began to sing in the Episcopal Women’s Choir. As a young girl, Phoebe studied the violin and piano, and as an adult she studied the organ. She was a graduate of Creston High School. Following graduation, she studied business and worked in the home office of the Muir Drug Co. She met the love of her life, Paul H. Wendler, while sledding downhill with girlfriends in Grand Rapids. The two high school sweethearts were united in marriage on August 16, 1941; he preceded her in death on March 13, 2013.

While raising her family, Phoebe was pursing music by organizing a Women’s Glee Club and was singing with the Civic Chorus and Webber Choral Group. She was also involved with the Federated Study Club and the PTA. Phoebe spent five summer sessions at Michigan State Kellogg Conference Center under the direction of Dr. Edward Arnold, studying sacred music and Bible history. While working for the church as the music director, Phoebe also directed the Saginaw Township Choraleers and had them audition for a spot in The Saginaw Showboat, which was sponsored by the Quota Club. A lifelong learner, she attended the Fred Waring Music Workship when she learned that Robert Shaw would be in attendance. The Robert Shaw Choir was the leading choral group at the time. Every session Phoebe attended was connected to the university where one could receive a certificate after passing a written exam and paying the college tuition.

Phoebe traveled to Europe for 18 days to see the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany. She also saw the Black Hills Passion Play in Spearfish, SD, as well as in Saginaw; fondly remembering how interesting it was to see how each play was expressed differently. Following Paul’s retirement, the couple traveled to various music workshops, board and annual meetings of the National Wildlife Federation, and General Motors activities.

In august 2011, Phoebe retired spending 60 years in the music program at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church; the last eight of which she directed and they brought other congregations and composers from over 350 miles away.

Surviving are a son and daughter-in-law, Paul O. and Elizabeth “Betsy” Wendler; daughter, Anne Marie Ellis; 13 grandchildren: Scott and Beth Wendler, Julie and John Delossantos, Lissa and Vince Schuessler, Christopher Neil Hamill, John and Sherrie Ellis, Melissa and Robin Mestdaugh, Theresa and Larry Bybee, Rebecca Samson; 22 great-grandchildren; 4 great-great-grandchildren. Also surviving are many nieces, nephews, extended family members, and friends.

Phoebe was preceded in death by a daughter, Gretchen Anne Hamill; a sister and two brothers.

A funeral service will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, November 4, 2019, at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, 4432 Mackinaw Road. Rev. Sue Hand will officiate. Entombment will follow at Roselawn Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum. Friends are welcome to visit the W. L. Case and Company Funeral Chapel, 4480 Mackinaw Road on Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Monday from 10:00 a.m. until the time of the service. In lieu of flowers, those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to donate to Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the staff of Homestead and Westcourt for all the love and care they provided to Phoebe; as well as Maier & Associates for “all their attention to details.”




W. L. Case and Company, Mackinaw Road Chapel
4480 Mackinaw Road
Saginaw, MI US 48603
Sunday, November 3, 2019
5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church
4432 Mackinaw Road
Saginaw, MI US 48603
Monday, November 4, 2019
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church
4432 Mackinaw Road
Saginaw, MI US 48603
Monday, November 4, 2019
11:00 AM