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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

WENDT, Lester

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Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/2161930/person/-1857609538/facts?_phsrc=TrL4065&_phstart=successSource

Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

WENDT, Lester. (Dubuque, IA, June 9, 1898--Dubuque, IA, Jan. 31, 1981). Wendt and his family made many contributions to Dubuque including the establishment of the Wendt Regional Cancer Center at FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE) and the founding of the Center for Advancement of Business Ethics (later renamed The Wendt Center for Character Education) at the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE. (1)

Beginning his nearly fifty-year career at CARADCO as an office boy, Wendt moved into administration and remained with the company until his retirement. When the company moved from Dubuque in 1977, Wendt, then chairman of the board of the Oregon based Jeld-Wen, founded by his son Richard WENDT, bought the former Dubuque facilities of CARADCO.

Upon his death, $220,000 was donated to FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE). In 1987 the Wendt family donated one million dollars, believed to be the largest health care gift in Dubuque history, to Finley to establish its cancer center. The facility was named the Wendt Regional Cancer Center to commemorate the continued support of the Wendt family for the hospital. (2)

Many other local organizations received sizable bequests including LUTHER MANOR, $330,000; University of Dubuque Center for the Advancement of Ethics, $330,000; DUBUQUE BOYS' CLUB, $220,000; YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.W.C.A.), $165,000; YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.M.C.A.), $165,000; DUBUQUE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY, $5,000; SAINT MARK LUTHERAN CHURCH, $12,500; and the Dubuque Post of the Salvation Army, $165,000. Gifts to the historical society and St. Mark's were in cash. Other bequests were in stock that was to be sold back to family members.

The UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE hosts the Lester G. and Michael Wendt Lecture Series and annually sixty students are accepted as Wendt scholars. (3) Lester Wendt was inducted into the DUBUQUE BUSINESS HALL OF FAME in 1987. (4)



1. Loetscher, Carole. Wood: The History of Farley & Loetscher Manufacturing Company Once the Largest Millwork Company in the World, 2017, p. 15

2. Blocker, Sue. "Finley to Get $1 Million Gift," Telegraph Herald, September 2, 1987, p. 3

3. 'Dead Man Walking' Author to Speak at UD," Telegraph Herald, March 3, 2015, p. 3

4. Blocker, Sue. "Dubuque Business Hall of Fame Honors 8 at Induction Ceremony," Telegraph Herald, January 18, 1989, p. 15