So Long Tom, I’ll See You Soon

For my family and friends who know and love him, I’m sad to say that George Thomas Wendler, my brother, confidant, friend, mentor and best man has passed on.


It’s impossible to sum up this man’s life in a short tribute. This is what I will say when we lay him to rest later today. 


I’m here to pay tribute to you my brother and your amazing life. I speak of you in the present because for me you are and always will be present. Your indomitable spirit is in each of us who know and love you and everyone whose life you touch.


At 18 you and Nancy left the nest to get married on January 1, 1963. 14 months later Jeff was a leap year gift and Ken followed two April’s after that. Lisa comes along in 1970 and seven years later Nan delivers a surprise package named Michelle. Your family is complete and you begin your climb to the top of the business world. Nancy stays home with the kids, the perfect Yin to your Yang.


Now 40 years later, with 10 beautiful grandchildren, we see what a legacy you and Nan built together. You are blessed to have the best dad and papa in the world.


You came from nothing and built an American dream story. You worked hard and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You never forget where you come from. You stay humble and grounded. You know what’s most important and valuable.


Love is your true North. Family is your legacy.

Family and friends adore you.

Colleagues respect and admire you.

Baruch College named classroom after you.

You go to Costco and buy food and supplies for homeless shelters.

You counsel family and friends after they lose loved ones.

You keep two cleaning ladies so you don’t have to fire one.


At my wedding you stood by me as my best man. You always encouraged me to be and do my best. In one of my darkest moments you told me, “Mitch don’t let disappointment define you!” Despite your own disappointment, challenges and heartbreak, you always want what’s best for those you love and care about. You will always be my best man.


We grew even closer these past few years when I stayed with you for weeks at a time and almost 2 months after your last surgery. I marvel at your daily routine. Like a soldier you march through drills. You don’t explain, complain or feel sorry for yourself.


You lost your voice box but your voice rings loud and clear. You lost your tongue so you speak through your fingers. Surgeries altered your facial features. Nancy would say Tom you’re just as handsome as ever! Your reply, “Nan, you need a new pair of glasses.”


You lost your boyish looks but you never lost your sense of humor.


After 49 years with Nancy as your Rock of Gibralter, you suffered the greatest loss, the love of your life. Yet as you did after every challenge and low blow that would have crushed a lesser man, you stood up and soldiered on.


You met the cruelest enemy head on and fought with everything you have. You are not defeated. You simply ran out of clock.


By your living example, your courage, will and love of life you show us how to rise above the superficial, the petty and ego to live as fully as you can, being kind, caring, compassionate, giving, definitely opinionated and always unconditional in your love.


In life, we get what we give. Look around the sanctuary today. You gave all you had to those you love. They are here to say we love you.


You are my brother confidant friend mentor. Your departure leaves a crater-sized hole in my life that cannot be filled.


Before I left for a cruise last Saturday you told me to go and have fun. When Michelle emailed me Wednesday that you were in hospice, I texted you I was on my way and to hang in there. I got here Thursday night just in time to see you. You knew I was coming and you waited for me to get here.


There’s no distance I wouldn’t fly no inconvenience I wouldn’t put up with to enjoy more time with you. We don’t take our goals with us, but we leave a piece of our soul with everyone we meet.


Whether you know him as George or Tom, dad or papa, or just Mr. Wendler I know there’s a piece of his soul in you.


As it should be now and forever you and Nan will rest side by side for eternity.


When you and I end a conversation, you say bye for now.

I say, “So long Tom, I’ll see you soon.”


So long Tom. I’ll see you soon!

I love you more than words can say.

Rest in peace my brother.

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