Dr. Wendell Kirkpatrick, longtime area family physician, devoted husband, father and grandfather, active sportsman, former Scoutmaster, and member of Longview Community Church, passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 97. He is survived by his beloved wife of 73 years, Mickey, 5 children (Bill, Steven (Melinda), Nan (Michael Dodson), Jeff (Debbi) and Donald (Jody)), 10 grandchildren, and 8 great grandchildren. He wore many hats and enjoyed every experience that passed his way during his nearly 98 years on this planet.
Wendell Charles Kirkpatrick was born February 9, 1926, in Richland Center, WI to Robert Bruce and Caroline Sophia Kirkpatrick. The big, boisterous family included 4 older brothers and parents devoted to church, music and education. Brothers Bob, Neal, Vernon, and Don were great buddies and managed to keep their parents hopping. Everyone played an instrument, and music filled their lives as they created fun and chaos in their formative years. Times were difficult during the depression. One day, everyone was instructed to check their pants pockets for spare change. A total of ten cents was found, just enough to buy a can of soup to feed a family of 7 for dinner. Good old fashioned hard work and honesty paid off, and Wendell and his siblings all successfully pursued their various careers.
Wendell enlisted in the Navy at age 18, and served in occupied Japan late in WWII. After returning home, he decided to pursue a career as a physician, and enrolled in the Washington University in St. Louis medical school.
While in medical school, Wendell experienced the single most important moment of his life, an event which would enrich his world for the rest of his existence. While waiting for a friend, he noticed a pretty young woman who was just leaving her nursing dorm. He was able to discover her name, arrange a blind date, and thus began a truly epic love story that endured for more than 73 years. That chance encounter with Minnie May “Mickey” Nading launched him into a magical, loving, devoted marriage that enriched his life beyond his wildest imagination. Side by side, always united, they loved and supported each other in a truly fairy-tale way. Their marriage was a shining example to their children and others who knew them as a couple. Wendell was one happy guy, and he always said Mickey was the primary reason!
Professionally, Dr. Kirkpatrick, lovingly known as “Dr. Wendell,” dedicated his life to the practice of family medicine. He and Mickey moved to Longview, WA in 1952 to open a medical practice with his brother, Neal. For 43 years, he served multiple generations of families. He delivered babies, performed surgery, treated the usual (and some unusual) illnesses, made house calls and hospital rounds, but always strived to make it home in time for family dinner. Committed to excellent patient care, Wendell was one of the first local doctors to become Board Certified in Family Practice when more rigorous care standards were established in 1969.
Family was paramount to Wendell and Mickey. Soon after moving to Longview, children arrived, bringing much laughter and excitement. Bill, Steve, Nan, Jeff and Don grew up with loving parents who insisted on hard work, varied learning experiences, commitment to education, and a generous amount of fun and play. Wendell and Mickey took up tennis, snow skiing, water sports, camping and other adventures right along with the kids. The entire family collected endless memories of simple times spent together for special occasions, trips, events, and moments to hold dear forever.
Wendell was the ultimate father. He was fair, fun, calm, quick to give praise and slow to anger. He taught his children the important things in life: work hard, give back, have fun, love one another. He was sought for counsel, eager to provide opportunity for growth, and supportive in every sense. He lived by example. His kids loved him fiercely. Although Wendell had a bias toward the medical field, he encouraged his children to follow their own dreams. Each has enjoyed success in life, following examples laid out by their parents.
Wendell lived a life of service. As a member of the Rotary Club, he helped organize their annual Country Store fundraiser to benefit a local school or charity. For many years he served as Scoutmaster of the 100+ member Troop 330, known as “Kirkpatrick’s Army” for their enthusiastic campouts and support of community activities. He was presented the area council’s Silver Beaver Award for outstanding character and service, one of the highest leadership awards in Scouting. All four of Wendell’s sons (and many of their friends) achieved the top rank of Eagle Scout. He took great pride in encouraging young men to work hard, persevere, learn new skills and have lots of fun along the way. Longview Community Church, the Longview School Board, Harmony Dance Club, and the Longview Country Club also benefitted from Wendell’s contributions through the years.
Family trips to visit relatives, explore the United States, or just for an adventure filled his free time. He slalom water skied into his 60’s, snow skied into his 70’s, and played golf into his 96th year. Woodworking, photography, and model trains were other hobbies he enjoyed.
Music was a constant presence in his life. Wendell especially enjoyed playing in the Southwest Washington Civic Symphony alongside his son, Don, and grandson, Bruce. Violin, flute, and piano were his favorites.
Retirement opened a whole new chapter in Wendell and Mickey’s lives. They built a home on Silver Lake that provided endless projects and leisure activities. He was a “Fix-It” type guy, able to handle many situations. The move also introduced them to the community of Toutle, where Wendell continued to influence youth by teaching math and music skills in the local school. A special blessing during this time was meeting the Dan Schilter family, who provided friendship and support to Wendell and Mickey in their later years. Many happy days were spent with these wonderful folks.
Wendell was a generous man from humble beginnings who always remembered those less fortunate. He believed in providing opportunities so people could learn to help themselves, but secretly enjoyed helping out when there was no recognition anticipated. Many will never know of Wendell’s kind ways and generosity as he preferred to donated anonymously. He worked very hard, believed in financial responsibility, and the importance of giving back. One grandson, Evan Kirkpatrick, was so inspired by Wendell that he named his financial brokerage business “Wendell Charles Financial” after his grandfather.
Wendell was consistently good natured, knew how to defuse an argument, and was respectful of others’ feelings and opinions. He did not seek the spotlight but was not afraid to stand in it.
When he reached his 90s, life slowed down a bit, but Wendell continued to golf until he was 96. Any day “on the right side of the grass” was a day to be enjoyed and savored. Golf provided many happy times with his kids and friends. Never one to be bored, he enjoyed a suspenseful spy novel, an exciting sporting event, or a good action movie. He especially loved a long nap and a tasty dessert. He considered himself a lucky man as Mickey made the best pies, and he “lived in the pie factory!”
Wendell was also a man of faith who trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior. All family meals began with a prayer of thanksgiving for the many blessings the Lord had bestowed on his family. Wendell recognized the truth of the oft sung refrain "Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” and he looked forward to his eternal home in heaven.
He will be missed beyond measure.
Plans for a celebration of life service are pending.
The family requests that memorials in Wendell’s name be made to Community House on Broadway or Longview Community Church.