January 5, 1943 - January 18, 2014
You probably didn’t know George Stendell, but you would have liked him. Those privileged enough to be close to him delighted in his big heart, fine intellect, clever wit, and gentle soul.
George was born on Jan. 5, 1943 in Oak Park, Ill., the much-loved son of George Rudolph and Hilda Groh Stendell and baby brother to Judith Stendell Wollenberg.
George grew up in Forest Park, Ill. and graduated from Proviso West HS in 1961. He headed to Oregon State University to explore his lifelong love of the outdoors by majoring in forestry but discovered that he and Smokey the Bear didn’t get along, as he always liked to say.
He then joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in Munich. There he met the love of his life, Gerda Mader Stendell, a vivacious German who worked on the base. The two just clicked, Gerda’s bright passion a perfect complement to George’s sweet strength. Friends called them the Siamese Twins because they were always together, always holding hands. They married in 1967 and recently celebrated 46 years together, a lifetime of happiness yet still far too short. In later years he marveled over how they always got along so well. During his final illness, he proudly told his doctors that Gerda was an angel. Gerda said that George was her life.
George and Gerda returned to the U.S. in 1968. George graduated from UI-Chicago in 1970 with a degree in management and began working for the U.S. Govt. Accountability Office. He earned his MBA in 1973 from the University of Chicago and became a CPA. He joined the Dept. of Justice, eventually rising to Regional Inspector General in Dallas.
George’s greatest source of pride was his two children, Aaron and Leanne, who both became lawyers, which he liked to tell anyone who would listen – even though he had always enjoyed a good lawyer joke. George was never more joyful than while spending time with his son. He adored Aaron’s wife, Jamie Bult Stendell, and was a tender Pop-Pop to their three children, Ayla, George Russell, and Adelaide. He lived for their weekly sleepovers and rejoiced when baby Adelaide, who will be too young to remember him, giggled in glee when she saw him and napped with him for hours during one of his final days.
He and Gerda spent countless beautiful evenings at Leanne’s house, and Leanne and George shared a special bond. They could talk for hours, about all things big and little. He was always and forever Leanne’s fiercest supporter.
As Gerda evolved throughout the years from schoolteacher to founder and president of Access Language Center in Richardson, George savored her achievements – never more so than when the business’s success allowed him to retire early from the DOJ and join Access as its Vice President.
George and his family were avid travelers, and he and Gerda especially enjoyed enchanted years in their vacation home in New Orleans. He loved pets his entire life, and they loved him back; it was rare to see him sitting at home without one or another in his lap.
George died at home on Jan. 18, 2014 with his loving family at his side, after an all-too-brief but thankfully painless battle with Stage 4 esophageal cancer. He had just reached his 71st birthday. He would want us to tell you that if someone you love suffers from chronic acid reflux, they need to be regularly monitored by a doctor.
We will miss our darling George – his dear kind soul, his lifelong love of learning and amazing wealth of knowledge, his nimble but gentle sense of humor, his honesty and decency, and his outsized presence in our lives. We are richer for having known him.
George is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, friend and brother-in-law Kenneth Wollenberg, nephew Kevin Wollenberg, niece Lisa Wollenberg Sachdev and family, and other dear friends. He is predeceased by his parents and his sister.
George’s life will be celebrated on Feb. 1, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. at Aria Funeral Home, 19310 Preston Rd, Dallas 75252.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society.
Arrangements are under the direction of
ARIA Cremation Service and Funeral
19310 Preston Road
Dallas, Texas 75252
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