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Wertenberger Jr., Donald Ralph


Donald Ralph Wertenberger, Jr, age 89, resident of McKinney, Texas, passed away peacefully on January 15, 2021.  Don was born in 1931 in Akron, Ohio, the son of Susan Gay and Donald Ralph Wertenberger.  He and his two sisters were raised in Tuscarawas, Ohio where he graduated from Tuscarawas-Warwick High School in 1949.  Upon completion of high school, Don gave four years of service to the United States Navy where he served at the Naval Communication Station in Yokosuka, Japan.  His years of service were from 1950 to 1954. He was honored with several medals which included the United Nations Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal and the National Defense Medal.  Don had much pride being a veteran for his country.

Following his military service, he attended Michigan State University on the GI Bill, graduating in 1958 with a degree in Lumber Merchandising. He worked for Edward Hines Lumber Company as a wholesale lumber salesman for several years. Later he became employed by The Kroger Company, starting as a foreman at the distribution center in Columbus, Ohio. He retired after 25 years in 1989 as an Assistant Distribution Manager in Livonia, Michigan.

Don spent most of his adult life living in Ohio and Michigan raising his three sons and enjoying family life.  He eventually moved to Tennessee for a more stable climate where he could enjoy retirement.  Later in life, Don moved to Texas to be near family.  Don will be remembered for his wonderful sense of humor, his caring demeanor and the love he had for his beautiful family.  We will remember him for his knowledge of current topics due to his love for reading, his passion for televised sports and his enjoyment of long walks.

Survivors include sons William (Connie) of Houghton, Michigan, David (Priscilla) of McKinney, Texas and Thomas (Dolores) of Mission Viejo, CA; their mother, Miriam (Lowry) Wertenberger; grandchildren Rachel (Wertenberger) Davila; Samuel Wertenberger; Ryan, Dustin and Sarah Wertenberger; great grandson Roman Davila. Sisters Edith Stanert and Carol (Jack) Phillips and a niece and several nephews.

A Veteran’s burial service will be held to honor Don for his years of service at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery at 10:15am on February 1, 2021.

Go in peace Dad (Grandpa) and know that the love we have for you will forever be in our hearts.

Please leave the family condolences and share memories on this website.

One Thought on Wertenberger Jr., Donald Ralph
    Vaughn Mouradian
    13 Oct 2022

    Let me start by introducing myself, so everyone can put the source of this note into context. I am a lifelong friend of Tom’s, separated by 2,000 miles since finishing college in 1985, but still in touch more than any of my local friends. We lived in the same subdivision in Milford, Michigan, and were neighborhood and high school friends. There were so many good times! We actually managed to stay out of trouble, even though we asked for it, just a handful of times.

    Mr. Wertenberger was not only a best friend’s dad, but he became my boss after graduating high school, where I worked at the Kroger warehouse. Little did I know at the time how significant that summer job would be, giving me a financial head start well above most of my peers. Working at Kroger for three consecutive summers allowed me to completely pay for my college bachelor’s degree, and still have plenty of cash to party with Tom and friends. This was a job that came to me, in that I wasn’t even really looking. Mr. Wertenberger made this possible, and for that I am so grateful, then, and some 40 years later. I still remember Tom telling me about the job opportunity from his dad, like it was yesterday. I said something like, “sure, I guess I can try it”. Working there taught me job responsibility, about workplace dynamics, and the value of making and managing money. Maybe the most important aspect learned is the thoughtfulness that people can do for one another, just being helpful in general. Mr. Wertenberger was this thoughtful person. In addition to being my boss and friend’s dad, I enjoyed visiting, talking, and hearing his jokes and fun criticisms. While the work there was heavy and physically demanding, I would do it over again without hesitation. But one requirement would be that Mr. Wertenberger would need to be there as well.

    Mr. & Mrs. Wertenberger, along with my parents, are considered to be part of the “Greatest Generation”. How true it is, while that name is so appropriate for who they are, and what they stand for. They can all be happy for the time window that they lived through, the good times and difficult ones, and all with long lives as well. I wrote Mr. & Mrs. Wertenberger a few years back, just to say hello, and let them know I was thinking of them, to share some things about my own family, and to say how Tom and I are still in touch. They both wrote me back with touching letters, and Mr. Wertnenberger said how he was happy that Tom and I remained as good friends. I’m so glad I made the communication with them, and it was great to hear back as well.

    My wife Kathy who is also a classmate with Tom sends her condolences as well.

    God bless Mr. Wertenberger, Mrs. Wertenberger, all their boys, and their boy’s families. While these passing goodbyes are difficult, try to keep all the great memories current, and reflect on enjoyable moments as time moves on for all of us. I feel very fortunate to have had him in my life. Thank you Mr. Wertenberger.


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The Gillilands
The Gillilands[click to read more]
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Dear John,

It was such a nice pleasure to meet you, and what you had planned for my father just took my breath away. It was so special to hear you tell us how he would just come over to talk with you. I think it brought him much comfort. Tha you for putting that Air Force article of him on your website. I am going to have a replica made of the painting of his plane to give you.

Thank you again for all you have done to honor our dad.

Love, The Gillilands


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