Robert Wondzell, 89, died peacefully at a local hospital on July 30, 2020.
Born August 8, 1930 in Spokane, Washington, Robert was the oldest of six children born to his parents Faber and Thelma Wondzell. Faber Wondzell moved his family from Washington to Wrangle, Alaska in 1951. The next year Robert joined the Army. He served his country during the Korean conflict, but did not see active service. He was stationed in Okinawa much of that time, and helped entertain the soldiers by playing his mandolin in a musical group that was broadcast on military radio. In 1954, he returned to Wrangle, Alaska, and found his mother had remarried a man named Albert Ronning. Robert caused a stir by marrying his stepsister, formerly unknown to him. For the next 40 years, he lived the Alaskan life, hunting, trapping, working in the lumber industry and becoming a commercial fisherman working for his father-in-law—a man he admired.
Two sons were born to him and his wife, Austin and Bob. They belonged to no church, until a Seventh-day Adventist preacher came to Wrangle to hold meetings. Robert was converted and joined the church. He became a strong supporter of Christian education, sending his two young sons to church school and later to academy. After many years, Robert desired to leave the cool, rainy climate of Wrangle to dry out and warm up in Arizona. His parents had moved there, and when they had passed away, his siblings and he inherited the family home. Robert bought out any interest his siblings had and moved in. Years later he bought 20 acres of desert property and lived there with his then wife-Shirley. She passed in 2008.
For the next two years, Robert lived alone with his dogs, cats, chickens, and pigeons (and the rattlesnakes!) He was a church elder, but declined to preach any sermons. Always a friendly man, he did do much witnessing and was instrumental in encouraging couples to marry and be baptized. In 2010, he married Vivian Prewitt and moved to her home in Tennessee where they spent ten happy years together. A few days shy of his 90th birthday, Robert broke his hip and was hospitalized in Hixson, where he had a successful surgery. However, the trauma was too much for his heart, and he passed on July 30, 2020.
He is survived by his wife of ten years, Vivian; two sons, Austin (Norma) of San Antonio, Texas and Bob (Faith) of Woodburn, Oregon; two brothers, Blair of Anchorage and Terry (Christine) of Sparks, Nevada (another brother, Bruce, died of cancer as a teenager); three sisters, Joyce Kramer of White Salmon, Washington, Myra (Homer) Sarber of Petersburg, Alaska and Clara Ann (Edward) Ness of South Colby, Washington; and stepsons, Eugene (Heidi) Prewitt of Malaysia and Michael (Sarah) Prewitt of Harrison, Tennessee. Robert leaves behind two grandchildren, Steve Wondzell and Melissa Spicer; two great-grandchildren, Jocelyn and Melody Duque; two step-grandsons, Nathan and Ryan Prewitt, along with many nieces, nephews, church family and his wife’s large family.
Funeral services were held Sunday, August 9 at Dunlap Seventh-day Adventist Church.
An online guestbook is at www.ewtonfuneralhome.com.
Ewton Funeral Home and Cremation Center of Dunlap was in charge of arrangements.