George Wenzel Jr.

George Wenzel Jr. passed away peacefully on Thursday, May 10, in Gnaden Huetten Hospital, Lehighton.

George was born in Coaldale on April 23, 1925, the son of George W. and Anna (Tomko) Wenzel.

He graduated from Coaldale High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and the football team.

George would want you to know that in 1942 Coaldale beat Tamaqua; he would not want you to know that they lost to Lansford. At the age of 8 he began delivering baked goods from his parents' kitchen in Coaldale. This was the beginning of a family business that expanded to Tamaqua, Lansford and for several years to Mahanoy City, Pottsville, and Allentown. Wenzel's Bakery closed in 2006. During this span his parents, siblings, other family members, and many others who became "family" contributed to the success of the business.

In 1943 George enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in World War II in the Pacific Theater. He was expecting to be part of the force destined to invade the Japanese mainland when the war suddenly came to an end. He became a member of the U. S. occupation force serving in Asahigawa, a mining town on the Japanese Island of Hokkaido. Before leaving the military in 1946 he attained the rank of sergeant.

After returning from the service, George attended baking school at Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis, Minn., and continued in the family business. During the late 1950's George and his brother Bill managed Wenzel's Auditorium on Center St. in Tamaqua, a combination dance hall and roller skating rink. During this time, Wenzel's attracted local singers and bands, as well as some of the more prominent names of the emerging Rock and Roll era, including Jimmy Clanton, Fabian, and Jimmy Rock. Wenzel's Auditorium closed in 1963 and became a bakery after the fire of 1980 destroyed the bakery building on Broad St.

George was active in local politics and served on the Tamaqua Borough Council for over 20 years, several of them as council president. He was also a past president and active member of the Tamaqua chapter of Rotary International, where he had a record of perfect attendance for over 50 years. He was also a past president of The Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce, a member of the TIDE board, and a member of the Elks, the American Legion, and the Tamaqua Historical Society. In 1991 he was honored by the Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce as Citizen of the Year.

George is survived by his wife of 63 years, Nellie (Verbickas) Wenzel, son George III, daughter Mary Karen Shoff, son-in-law Glenn Shoff, grandchildren Lindsay (Shoff) Chiavaroli and husband David, Damian Shoff, sisters-in-law Janis (Jones) Wenzel, and Carol (Karnes) Wenzel, nephews Richard Krepak, William and Frank Wenzel, and nieces Suzanne (Krepak) Krell, Ann (Wenzel) Jones, Janis (Wenzel) Reimiller, Betsy (Wenzel) Morgan, Sharon (Wenzel) Van Buskirk, and Christine (Wenzel) Lesisko. George was preceded in death by his parents, sister Elizabeth Krepak, brothers William and Robert and his youngest son, Lee.

The family requests that donations be sent to The Tamaqua Rotary Club or to The Howard Buehler Memorial Park (The Bungalow.)

Service: Private, at the convenience of the family. Friends may call at the Zizelmann-Roche Funeral Home, 500 E. Broad St., Tamaqua, on Sunday from 4-6 p.m.

.Published in Times News on May 11, 2012 .