Bob Hentzen

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Hentzen, Bob, president and co-founder of international nonprofit CFCA, dies at 77. Robert K. "Bob" Hentzen, the visionary president and co-founder of Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA), the largest charitable organization in Kansas, died on Oct. 8 in Guatemala. He was 77. Hentzen, his siblings, Bud, Jim, and Nadine Pearce, and Jerry Tolle, a family friend, started CFCA, an international sponsorship organization, in his basement in 1981. Today, CFCA works in 21 developing countries around the world and is one of the 200 largest nonprofits in the United States. Visionary leader, musician, teacher and itinerant philosopher all described Hentzen. Born Mar. 29, 1936, he grew up in Kansas City, Mo. He and his 11 siblings were taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, and he later attended the Christian Brothers' De La Salle High School in Kansas City. Hentzen entered La Salle Institute, a house of formation for the Christian Brothers in Glencoe, Mo. In 1957, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in religious education from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota in Winona, Minn., and he later received a master's degree in education there. The institution recognized Hentzen with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001 and awarded him an honorary doctorate for leadership and service the following year. The calling to help the poor became his life's work when he served as a Christian Brother in Colombia, South America from 1959 to 1963 and in Guatemala from 1967 to 1973. Hentzen eventually left the Christian Brothers and pursued a successful teaching career before co-founding CFCA. Raising awareness about the struggles of the poor seldom left his mind. In 1996, Hentzen set out on foot from CFCA headquarters in Kansas City, Kan., and walked 4,000 to Guatemala as an act of solidarity with the poor. It was in Guatemala that he and his wife, Cristina, settled. In 2009, Hentzen embarked on his second trek, walking more than 8,000 miles through 12 countries from Guatemala to Chile. "Society has told them all along that they are not capable," Hentzen said in a reference to families living in poverty. "We are here to tell them they are quite capable. You are not alone. We are listening to you. We are learning from you." Hentzen died unexpectedly Oct. 8, 2013, of natural causes. He was the last of CFCA's five founders. But the mission and work of CFCA will continue, led by his example. Bob Hentzen is survived by his wife, Cristina, San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala; sisters Doris Edmonds, Blue Springs, Mo.; Barbara Hentzen, Georgetown, Texas; six children, Luz and Brian Collins, Bloomingdale, Ill.; Ana and Jorge Martinez, Independence, Mo.; Sandra Yanes and Thomas Harrison, Olathe, Kan.; Gina Cobb, Oak Harbor, Wash.; Cesar and Kerri Yanes, Overland Park, Kan.; Robert Jacob and Hanna Hentzen, Leawood, Kan.; 11 grandchildren, seven sponsored children and numerous nieces and nephews. Hentzen was laid to rest in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. A memorial Mass will be 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct.24, at Redemptorist Church, 3333 Broadway. Kansas City, Mo., the parish where Bob was raised. Memorials may be made by sponsoring a child or donating to the CFCA Scholarship Fund at

Published in The Wichita Eagle on Oct. 20, 2013
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