Edward William Wessling
1924 - 2021
"His life and his work, they were one." Ed Wessling would occasionally mention this as his personal aspiration for life. The consensus among those who knew him best--well done, Ed!
Two weeks following his 96th birthday, Ed suffered a severe stroke in early January, and passed away peacefully in hospice February 2nd, 2021. He was a proud resident of Wickenburg, Arizona, in three different stints, totaling 15 years. For his last two years, until his passing, he enjoyed independent living at My Father's Retirement Ranch.
Ed's early life was spent in the fertile valleys of California's interior. Born in Stockton, young Ed's life was partially forecast by the words in the telegram his father, the Rev. Albert Wessling, sent to his own mother: "The assistant pastor has arrived!" After his initial years living in Lodi, the family moved to Oakland for his elementary schooling through college. The example of his father--as both a pastor and college professor--inspired Ed to train for the ministry and cultivate a lifestyle of passionate, lifelong learning. But his love of jokes, puns, and humorous anecdotes he gleaned from his mother, Toni. He graduated with a Masters of Divinity degree from Concordia Lutheran Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1949. He added a second Masters degree, in Guidance & Personnel, from the University of Michigan. He always sought opportunities to learn further through his myriad relationships--informally "interviewing" almost everyone he met to benefit from any insights they could offer him through their life experiences.
He served in university ministry and parish ministry in states as diverse as Wisconsin, Indiana, Colorado, and California. He finished his divine calling serving at churches in Arizona (Redeemer Lutheran Church in Wickenburg and Crown of Life Lutheran Church in Sun City West). He took a hiatus from pastoral ministry from 1962 to 1973 to work in personnel and management consulting for corporations including Motorola and Lockheed Missile and Space (also tasking Ed with public speaking and as a speechwriter for the president). Experiencing spiritual renewal in the early 1970's, Ed reentered the formal ministry. He retired from active parish ministry proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in 2007, thankful for 48 years of vocational service.
While he dabbled in tennis, and authored an occasional magazine article or book, he really excelled in an arena to which few aspire--Master of Ceremonies for banquets, retirement tributes, conferences, etc. For this skill he was in high demand, frequently traversing America at the request of various organizations to make a special event that much more entertaining. There he would unleash a dizzying array of puns, one-liners, barbs and stories wrapped around encouraging insights, all to support the event. Between the laughs and groans, those in the room were not simply entertained, but often felt closer to one another through Ed's artful use of humor.
He happily participated in a wide variety of small social groups in recent years, ranging from leading Bible studies, discussions on aging, interacting with skeptics of religion, weekly breakfasts "with the guys", to growing in knowledge of the history and culture of Arizona. Those around him often remarked what a deep influence Ed had on them, helping them to grow spiritually and intellectually, to break down barriers with one another, and to be honest together about the struggles of life.
Ed is survived by his four children: Scott (Pam) Wessling, Hope (Dave) Keesling, Todd (Eileen) Wessling, and Eve (Brian) Wall, nine grandchildren, and 19 great grand-children. He is predeceased by wives
Esther Sommer, Evelyn Myhre, and Gale Mathewson; his brother Warren (Alice) Wessling; and by his eldest son, Mark (Ruth) Wessling.
Ed will be dearly missed by his family and friends but we gratefully entrust him to his Eternal Lord.The memorial service will be 11:00AM Saturday, February 20, at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 450 Rose Lane,