Spurgeon “Spud” Robert Wentzell, 77 years old, went to be with the Lord on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Spud is survived by his wife, Laura Wentzell; his children, Emily, Joshua, and Justin and their spouses and children; his stepchildren, Ricky, Krista, and Ryan, and their spouses and children; his brother, Tommy; his stepsiblings and their families; his nephew, Dustin and his wife and children; and numerous cousins. He was preceded in death by his father, Spurgeon, and his mother, Frances.
Spud was born on October 28, 1943, to Spurgeon and Frances Wentzell, in Claremont, NH. He grew up in Claremont with his older brother, Tommy, and obtained his high school diploma from Stevens High School as a part of the class of 1962. He then went on to get his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Springfield College (MA) and Ed.D from Boston University. He served in the areas of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (HPERD) and sports in various positions and settings in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Spud’s service began with teaching positions at the elementary and secondary school levels, and included intramural coordinator, department chair, athletic director, and varsity coach of cross country and basketball. He was a certified recreation therapist, supervisor of recreational therapy and therapy team leader in a large neuro-psychiatric hospital, as well as director of a community recreation program, day camp director and camp counselor. Collegiate experiences focused on teaching HPERD courses and interdisciplinary studies, designing and assessing curriculum and supervising field experiences. Spud was a Professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance at Messiah College in Grantham, PA for over 20 years, teaching pedagogy courses, assessment and adaptive physical education, and supervising student teachers. Prior to Messiah College, he taught and was department chair at Houghton College, NY, and Barrington College, RI. Professional growth and service were trademarks of Spud. He was President of PSAHPERD, Executive Committee Member, and served as Chair of the Applied Strategic Planning Committee and the PA Chapter 5 Implementation Committee. He also served on committees for the Leadership (Vision Quest) Conference, Professional Preparation and Certification, Outstanding Programs, Resolutions, and as an ex-officio member of the Social Justice Committee. Nationally, he served on the American Alliance for HPERD Middle and Secondary School Physical Education Counsel and was a PA Delegate to AAHPERD conventions. He was a strong advocate for quality programs and excellence in education, serving as a NCATE/NASPE reviewer, consultant for undergraduate programs, and on PA Department of Education committees; such as Task Force for PA Standards for Health, Safety, and Physical Education, team member for a PDE/CDC Grant for Curriculum Review of HPE/HIV/AIDS Programs and Project Coordinator for a PDE/CDC Grant for Regional Workshops.
Spud made numerous presentations focusing on such topics as educational reform, curriculum development, quality programs, best and developmentally appropriate practices, participant motivation and behavior and sport ethics. He provided in-service programs, specialized assistance and/or consulting for over twenty PA school districts. His diverse community service included Chair of Parent-Teacher Association, member of a committee to study the feasibility of unifying school districts, volunteer/aid for a kindergarten classroom, head timer for track and field, and a youth coach in baseball, basketball, and soccer. Internationally, Spud promoted school and 4-H programs while living in the Republic of The Philippines, participated in an HPER International Congress, and was a guest of West Midlands Teacher’s College in England. He served as a delegate to an Olympic Scientific Congress in Germany, and studied healthcare, sport and education systems in Cuba. The PSAHPERD honored Spud with many awards over the lifetime of his career. Spud wrote many articles that were published in professional journals. The title of Spud’s 2003 collection of stories, “Making A Difference”, expressed Spud’s passion and journey of making a difference in the profession, community, schools, and the lives of individuals.
When Spud was not teaching, he loved visiting with his children and grandchildren who lived in various places around the United States. He was a fierce Red Sox fan and enjoyed watching baseball, college basketball, and the Olympics. Spud loved yard sales and flea markets, and eating with the locals when visiting different places. He loved the smell of a new book and perusing in bookstores. Overall, Spud was passionate about leading a lifestyle focused around staying healthy and active, reading the Bible daily, and education.
A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, July 27, at 2pm at Mt. View Cemetery in Claremont, NH, followed by a Celebration of Life. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to either of the following organizations whose missions reflect Spud’s core values and support those Spud helped throughout his lifetime: World Vision – https://www.worldvision.org/donate or Best Friends Animal Society – https://bestfriends.org/.
You are invited to share a memory of Spud with the family or leave a message of condolence in the family guest book at www.royfuneralhome.com.
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