Wendell J. Dittmer, 72, of Ackworth, Iowa, passed peacefully at home on July 27, 2023, due to complications from cancer. His last days were spent at home surrounded by family and friends.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, July 31, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. at the Pierschbacher Funeral Home in Milo. A visitation will be held on Sunday, July 30, 2023, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. also at the funeral home in Milo.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Wendell's memory to Lacona Beautification Society, Pink Tractor Foundation, or EveryStep Hospice.
Wendell was born December 26, 1950, to Robert and Margaret (Schurman) Dittmer. He grew up on a farm near Lacona, Iowa, attended SEW High School and graduated in 1969. It was at SEW that he met his first wife, Virginia Putz. Wendell and Virginia were married April 15, 1972, and to this union, their son Craig and daughter Jennifer were born. Wendell worked on the family farm until the early 80’s when he decided to put his construction skills to use and start his own construction company. Dittmer Construction grew and Wendell’s handiwork is still in place in many homes and businesses throughout Southeast Warren and the surrounding areas.
Virginia passed away unexpectedly in May of 1991, after 18 years of marriage. After Virginia’s death, Wendell became a participant, and later a facilitator/counselor, of a grief group called Beginning Experience (BE) and a facilitator/counselor for Young Adult Beginning Experience (YABE) in support of his children, Craig and Jennifer. At YABE, Wendell became a father figure to many teens struggling with grief. At BE, Wendell met Vicki Bennett, and they were later married on February 24, 1996. Wendell became dad to Vicki’s son, Shaun and her daughter, Shannon.
Wendell and Vicki moved to an acreage in Ackworth, in a house that Wendell built. They spent many hours planting trees and flowers, and growing tomatoes, melons, and peas in a large garden. Wendell enjoyed using his Ford tractors to take care of their acreage. Many memories were made with friends and family in the home they created.
Vicki retired in 2018 and Wendell retired in 2020. During their retirement, they enjoyed traveling with Wendell’s sister, Ruby and brother-in-law, Neil. They were also able to attend many musical and athletic events for their ten grandchildren.
Wendell will forever be remembered as a kind, gentle soul with the mind to see how things were built and the hands to carry out his vision. His early years on the farm cultivated a love of the land and a strong work ethic. From his mother’s example, he developed his quiet strength and compassion for others.
All around the SE Warren area are the works of his hands. Over 38 years, he built homes, remodeled, put on additions, roofed houses, worked on barns and sheds, and did electrical and concrete work. There was little he couldn’t do. At the end of the day, he always made sure to clean up and not leave a mess for his customers. His attention to detail and pride in his work led to many repeat customers.
His quiet strength shined through in many ways. As a husband, he was the strong anchor that kept the family grounded in values. As a dad, he was willing to let his kids do things on their own, but was ready to step in when needed. As a friend, he would laugh with you in good times and stand beside you through the not so good times. As a facilitator/counselor for the young adult grief YABE, he became a father figure to many who did not have that steadying influence in their life. As a facilitator/counselor for BE, he used his own healing to help others heal.
He loved to laugh. His deadpan sense of humor and “dad” jokes will be cherished by all who knew him. Even on his last days, his sense of humor remained.
He was a nurturer of the land, rooted from his early years on the farm. On his acreage, he and Vicki planted and cared for many trees and flowers. He was constantly waging war against the weeds, dandelions and thistles that invaded his yard. They made the house he built into a welcoming home where many memories were made.
Family was always the most important part of his life. He worked hard to provide, and he took time to support his kids and grandkids’ activities. He took his grandkids on tractor rides until they were too big to sit on his lap and pulled them on sleds in the winter. During the summer, he would take them for rides in the little red wagon behind the garden tractor, often taking time to pick up sticks in the yard. Grandkids always knew that Papa would have red licorice in his pockets. Papa loved his root beer floats, pies, peach cobbler and ice cream, and cookies. Papa never could say no when it was time for dessert.
Wendell’s legacy is not just in the buildings he created, but in the many lives he touched throughout his life. Those left to cherish his memory are his wife, Vicki; sons, Craig (Dena) Dittmer and Shaun (Amy) Bennett; daughters, Jennifer (Brent) Baughman and Shannon (Adam) Hahn; grandchildren: Keith, Derek and Grace Dittmer, Ross, Trey and Kade Baughman, Gianna and Kalaya Bennett, Madyn and Reese Hahn; brothers, Germain (Mary Ellen) Dittmer and Matt (Becky) Dittmer; sisters: Lola Sternquist, Mary (Leon) Hartogh, Deloris (Don) Van Ryswyk, Bobbie Burnett, Ruby (Neil) Moon, and Marjorie (Steve) Worley; brothers-in-law, Steve (JoAnn) Bump and Mark (Janna) Putz; sisters-in-law: Charlotte Dittmer, Jolene Dittmer, Janet (Steve) Hartz, and Kathy McMulin; along with many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Wendell was preceded in death by his late wife, Virginia; his parents, Robert and Margaret Dittmer; brothers, Franklin and Mike Dittmer; brothers-in-law: Jerry Sternquist, Dick Burnett, and Larry McMullin; and sister-in-law, Marilyn Dittmer.