Charles Herman Wenger|
April 12, 1923 - April 16, 2014
SALEM - Charles was born in Pandora, Ohio on April 12, 1923. He was one of nine children of his parents Wilbert and Mary Wenger. Chuck lived the first thirteen years of his life in Pandora. He reflected often of this time Ice skating on the frozen ponds around Pandora and also being amazed by thunder and lightning storms.
In June 1936 Chuck's father loaded their car and trailer with their belongings and headed west. Wilbert and Mary and the nine children made the 2700 mile trek to Salem, Oregon. Chuck attended school in Salem and especially enjoyed being a member of the football and baseball teams. In the years before his enlistment in the military during WWII Chuck lived in Los Angeles, Ca. He attended Pasadena Bible College for a time during this period. He often commented how he enjoyed Los Angeles during this era with the wonderful climate and the entertainment options available.
In December, 1942 Chuck enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. He spent the majority the War years in the South Pacific assigned to the USS San Pedro as a Gunners Mate. He was involved in many battles as the U.S. Navy moved north from New Guinea to the Philippines. He especially had vivid memories of the 'Battle of Leyte Gulf' in the Philippines and encountering some of the first Kamikaze pilots seen in WWII. Chuck left the Coast Guard in March 1946 and returned to Salem.
In the years following the War Chuck met Dorine Dudley and they were married on August 9th,, 1947. Chuck spent a brief time attending Oregon State University and played football until a knee injury ended his time at the school. Chuck and Dorine had a wonderful life together for 56 years until Dorine's death in 2003. Chuck worked at numerous jobs including time with Sears Roebuck and owning an Atlantic Richfield service station at the corner of Lancaster and Silverton roads in Salem. Chuck found his true calling when he had to fill in as a salesman when he worked at 'Earl Malm Trailers' in the early 1960s. He worked as a salesman for the rest of his career selling cars and airplanes. He worked for Eyerly Volkswagen for thirteen years and was the top salesman in the Pacific Northwest for Volkswagen a number of times. Chuck then went on to open his own business, Chuck Wenger Motors, on Silverton road in Salem. Chuck's first priority was always his family, but for anyone who knew Chuck soon became aware of his passion for flying. He owned numerous airplanes over the years and built his own airstrip next to his house. During his retirement years he and his partner refurbished and sold a number of planes at his airfield.
Charles was preceded in death by his parents and his siblings, Lucille, Margaret, Elaine, Louise, James, Norma, Richard, and Howard and his Grandson Alexander. Survivors include his sons Charles Jr. of Eugene, Todd of Salem, Lester of Phoenix Arizona, and daughter Wendy of Aumsville and his Grandchildren Nicole of Springfield Oregon, Erin of Miami Florida, and D.J. of Aumsville Oregon. The family would like to extend our thanks for the care Chuck received at the nursing facility, Marquis Care at Silver Garden, in Silverton during the last few weeks. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Gentiva Hospice for their care and assistance during the last days of Chuck's life.
A memorial service will be held at Jason Lee United Methodist church (820 Jefferson Street NE, Salem, OR) at 1:00 PM Thursday April 24th. Internment will immediately follow at City View Cemetery with Military honors. Any contributions can be made to the Jason Lee Church food bank or the Humane Society of Oregon.
Published in StatesmanJournal on Apr. 22, 2014