Wendell Ellsbury died at age 97 on June 13, 2012, at Covenant Shores Retirement Center, Mercer Island, Washington. He was known as “Dusty” to many of his family and friends, a nickname he acquired in the Army.
Wendell was born July 8, 1914, on a cattle ranch near Farrall, Wyoming. The Ellsbury Ranch was homesteaded and has been in the Ellsbury family since 1880. Wendell worked on the ranch for several years, and then obtained a B.S. in Forestry at Colorado State University in 1941. He met Ruth Catherine Hentschel of Denver, Colorado in 1940 at CSU and they married November 6, 1942. Wendell served from 1942-45 in the U.S. Army, 90th Division, 343rd Field Artillery Battalion, and was involved in the Normandy invasion (Utah Beach), Battle of the Bulge, and other action across northern France, Luxembourg, and Germany. The French government appointed him chevalier of the French Legion of Honor for his contributions to the liberation of France in World War II.
From 1947 to 1973 he worked for the U.S. Forest Service in ten different towns in New Hampshire, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Colorado, and Wyoming. All of Wendell and Ruth’s children (Michael, Kathleen, and Richard) were born in different states. Wendell and Ruth were active in churches wherever they lived. They traveled extensively in the U.S. and took two trips to Europe. They retired to Spearfish, South Dakota, in 1980, and lived there until 1999 when they relocated to Mercer Island to be near family. They spent the last years of their lives at Covenant Shores Retirement Community on Mercer Island. Wendell enjoyed woodworking, genealogy, gardening, and playing harmonica. Like all of the four Ellsbury brothers, he was an excellent horseshoe player and participated in many tournaments while living in Spearfish. He was much loved for his kindness, wit, patience, and playfulness.
Ruth was born April 19, 1920, in Denver, Colorado, and died April 16, 2011, in Mercer Island at age 90. She attended the University of Denver, Colorado State University, and Colorado Women’s College, where she obtained an Associate of Science degree in 1941. She worked for 15 years as a secretary for the federal General Services Administration and U.S. Geologic Survey. She played bridge as a way to meet people in each new community they moved to, and enjoyed sewing, writing, traveling, and gardening. She loved planning and trying to make various groups more effective.
Wendell and Ruth are survived by a daughter Kathleen Ellsbury of Seattle; sons Michael Ellsbury (Susan) of Fairbury, Nebraska, Richard Ellsbury (Connie) of Roseburg, Oregon; granddaughter, Muña Qamar of New York City; Wendell’s brother, Tracy Ellsbury (Margaret) of Sundance, Wyoming; Ruth’s sister Doris Hentschel Kettler (Earl) of Centerville, Ohio; sister-in-law, Ida Handel Hentschel of Lodi, California; and many nieces and nephews.
Preceding Wendell in death besides his wife, Ruth, were his parents, Merton LD and Ella Truax Ellsbury; sisters, Nettie Ellsbury Evans (Paul), Juanita Ellsbury McElroy (Alva), and Gail Ellsbury Harrison (CL); brothers, Lyman Ellsbury (Mary), and Elner Conrad Ellsbury (Annabelle); Ruth’s parents William Reinhold Hentschel and Louise Wenzel Hentschel; Ruth’s brother GH “Herb” Hentschel; Ruth’s twin sister Ruby Hentschel Hahn (Robert); son-in-law, Anthony Qamar; and grandson John Michael Ellsbury.
The lives of Ruth and Wendell will be honored at a future date in Spearfish, South Dakota, their adopted home from 1980 to 1999, near many of Wendell’s family.