For many years, our founder, the Reverend William A. Wendt ("Bill"), STD, served as an Episcopal parish priest, challenging the local and national community to address racial and social justice issues, to admit women to the priesthood and to work for those most in need. In the early 70's, Father Wendt visited a friend dying of cancer and realized that despite all his training he did not feel prepared to minister to those facing death and those left to grieve the loss.
Bill took a sabbatical to study death and, in 1975, founded the St. Francis Burial and Counseling Society, Inc. This was renamed in 1979 as the St. Francis Center. Bill Wendt was a pioneer, talking about death and dying long before it was acceptable, urging the community to take care of the grieving.
Drawn by Bill’s vision and energy, a strong corps of volunteers came together to offer support to people who are dying. Over the years, the organization developed into a full service, staffed, nonprofit organization and emerged as the area’s premier social service agency supporting people with end-stage disease and those left in bereavement. In 1999, the organization changed its name to the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, a name that both reflects our mission and honors our founder. We remain faithful to Bill's vision that "people should not have to be alone in their grief."
Bill died on July 8, 2001, at the age of 81.