Donald Edward Wenner, Sr. was born at home in Stark County, North Dakota on July 13, 1925. He was the 2nd of three sons, Warren, Donald and Alvin, born to Henry and Margaret Wenner. Donald passed away at home in Ruidoso on March 5, 2022. After 96 years of adventurous living, Donald battled intractable congestive heart failure which slowed him down and ushered him into his final rest.
Graveside services will be officiated by his son, Bishop Karl Wenner at Fort Stanton Veterans Cemetery on Monday, March 14, 2022 at 1:30 P.M. Visitation will be at LaGrone Funeral Chapel of Ruidoso from 11:00 A.M. until Noon.
Young Donald’s ranching/farming family moved to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota in 1937. Word of the WWII bombing of Pearl Harbor came while Donald was in High School. He enlisted in the Navy at age 17 shortly after graduation. He served on the USS Enterprise in the Pacific theater during the war. After the war, Don decided to make a career of his Naval enlistment. He served in many locations including Rhode Island, Atlantic City, Greenland, Patuxent River, Johnsville, MD, Hanson, MA, etc. His expertise was in aviation electronics.’ He attained “Chief” status at the onset of the Korean War, becoming one of the youngest “Chiefs” in the Navy.
Purchasing a Harley Davidson motorcycle proved to be fortuitous as he met the love of his life, Clara Kuerner outside a Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania diner where she was admiring his motorcycle. A few years later they married. Clara was the daughter of Karl and Anna Kuerner, the subjects of many of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings on the Kuerner’s farm.
While Don served aboard ships in an anti-submarine warfare squadron Clara live at home with her parents. Their first son, Donald Edward Wenner, Jr. was born on December 23, 1953. A daughter, Patricia Elizabeth was born 4 years later on December 10, 1957. After 18 years in the Navy, Donald requested and was stationed in Naples, Italy. By then, he was a Master Chief. He and the family made the most of their time there, traveling all over Europe. Their youngest son, Karl Henry was born in Italy on September 5, 1963. Master Chief, Donald E Wenner Sr. retired from the Navy in 1965.
Donald enrolled at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in September 1965. He graduated with a mathematics degree in 1969. While at UNM he was inducted into 3 Honor Societies: Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, and Kappa Mu Epsilon. It was during this time that Donald developed a love of camping, hiking, and hunting as inexpensive ways to recreate and feed his family.
In the Spring of 1970, the family moved to Roswell, NM purchasing the Travel Lodge motel, thus starting a new adventure as Independent Business owners. The heat in Roswell drove them to sell the Travel Lodge and move to Ruidoso where they bought the Aspen Lodge. Don and Clara ran the business together as their children grew, left home, and prospered. They retired in 1997 when youngest son Karl and his wife, Lisa purchased the business. Don spent the remainder of his years traveling the world with his wife, children, and grandchildren as well as teaching all of them a love for the mountains, camping, hiking and of course, hunting.
Donald is survived by his wife, Clara Kuerner Wenner of Ruidoso, his brother, Alvin Wenner of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, his children Donald Jr and wife, Laurie Wenner of Roswell, Patricia and husband Kevin Rohane of Park City, Utah and Karl and wife, Lisa Wenner of Ruidoso. Donald’s Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren are Andrea and husband Logan McGarrah with Peter and Elena, Donald III and wife Stephanie Wenner with Donald IV and Eleanor, Nathan and wife Jalene Wenner with Wyatt and Teagan and Grandson Theodore Wenner, Katelynne and husband Keenon Sherrell with Derek and Clara, Mieka Wenner and Karl William and wife Clarissa Wenner, Anneliese Rohane and Giselle Rohane.
Donald is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank Donald’s Cardiologist, Dr. Hamid Feroze who cared for Donald with respect and compassion for many years. Also the family thanks Dr. Frank Dimotta, Donald’s family doctor in Ruidoso and the HME Specialists, LLC oxygen supply staff who were so kind over the past few years.
In lieu of flowers please donate to Southern New Mexico Chapter, Safari Club International at PO Box 1922, Roswell, NM 88202-1922 or donate to Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758516, Topeka, Kansas 66675-8516 https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/donate
Online condolences may be made at www.lagroneruidoso.com