Richard  Wetzler

Obituary of Richard Wetzler


Richard “Dick” Wetzler



Richard (Dick) Wetzler passed away Monday, May 6th at age 84 in Ellsworth, WI at Preferred Senior Living, with his children by his side. Dick had lived with Alzheimer’s for many years, while keeping his genuine smile, love of music, good natured teasing, and jokes. 


Born the baby of five children (John, Virginia, Charles and Robert) to Pastor Paul and Bernice Wetzler in Minneapolis, MN, Dick was a Pastor’s Kid, or as he called it, a PK. Being a PK was formative to his bright, kind and clever personality growing up near the Minneapolis chain of lakes during a time when kids could roam free, or, in his case, take the trolley to preschool by themselves.


Marsha (Lindstrom) Wetzler was the love of his life and preceded Dick in death 8 years ago. Dick and Marsha ran in the same circle of friends at West High School in Minneapolis where Dick excelled football, basketball, baseball and ran track. After high school they both went on to attend the University of Minnesota. They were later married and continued to be staunch Gophers basketball and football fans. 


Dick’s fondness for travel and learning brought the young couple, and toddler son Steve to another U of M, in Missoula, Montana where he earned a Master’s degree in mathematics. Many hours were spent those years forming new lifelong friendships, sharing stories, hiking, trout fishing the Clark Fork River, and of course, attending classes. Soon after returning to Minnesota, daughter Kristin was born.


After this initial time in Montana, the trips out west for Dick and Marsha were many. He enjoyed driving and drive he did, traveling countless times out west exploring new places and visiting friends and family. Then later in life on yearly winter treks to Florida and the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. 


Earning his Master’s degree gave Dick the ability to share his love of math by teaching at Lakewood Community College, now Century College, and the University of Minnesota extension program. One day he noticed one of his students sneezing during his class. He thought she was sneezing because of the chalk dust. It turned out that chalk dust wasn’t the cause of the sneezing, but thereafter, Dick was using hypoallergenic chalk - just in case. 


There wasn’t a dog Dick didn’t love. And vice versa. On walks, he would always carry treats in his pockets so he could meet new dogs and make new friends. As Marsha was the love of Dick’s life, Sam, his son Steve’s golden retriever, was the dog of his life. Often you could find Dick in the driveway with a tennis ball and a twinkle in his eye. He’d say, “watch this,” then lob the ball over the garage to the back yard. In a minute Sam would come bounding around the corner, golden fur flowing, drop the ball and run back to her post… to wait for the next tennis ball to come flying over the garage. 


Throughout the many years living on 18th Avenue in North St. Paul, where their kids grew up, Dick was very involved in the neighborhood, served on the church council at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and became very involved in the Hmong community. Oftentimes you would find Hmong families, adults, and children, gathered around the Wetzler dinner table to learn English. After retiring from teaching, Dick wanted to find a way to help the Hmong community so he cofounded the Hmong Times Newspaper, a publication that continues today, providing a platform to connect the Hmong community. 


Later in life, Aphasia, a language disorder and symptom of Alzheimer’s, set in causing Dick to have communication challenges. He spent his final years at Preferred Senior Living in Ellsworth, WI. Even with his struggles with communicating, Dick’s bright and cheerful personality shone through to the staff who took such very good care of him.   


Richard is survived by his son Steve Wetzler (Kim Benjamin) of Prescott, WI and Kristin Wetzler Deltano (David Deltano) of San Antonio, TX, sister Virginia Schoen, brother Bobby Wetzler and many nieces, nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews. Dick enjoyed his role of grandpa to Matthew and Abby Deltano and Tucker (Brooke) Benjamin. Leaving memories of times at the beach in Florida as he dropped amazingly large shells for the kids to “find,” hiking the Mount Oberg trail on the North Shore of Lake Superior, looking for raspberries, exploring for agates, or on a quest for Worlds Best Donuts in Grand Marais, MN. Dick, known as “Mr. Dick,” was one of Tucker’s biggest fans as he enthusiastically cheered on Tucker’s football career throughout high school and college!


Dick lives on today in his son as he donated a kidney to Steve nearly 25 years ago. 


A celebration of life will be at Boutwells Landing Historic Church located at 5600 Norwich Parkway in Oak Park Heights, MN on Friday, June 7 at 11:00 am. A light meal to follow in the Fireplace Room at Keller Golf Course at 2168 Maplewood Drive in Maplewood, MN. 


No flowers are necessary. What would have made Dick the happiest is for you to gather together with friends and share one of the many stories of Dick, his kindness and how he touched and enhanced so many lives.


If you are interested in honoring Dick’s memory, donations may be sent to JDRF Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. 

A Memorial Tree was planted for Richard
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Cremation Society Of Minnesota | St. Paul
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