Wendell Christian, aged 72 years and one month, departed this mortal life Wednesday, Sept. 18. Wendell was preceded in death by his wife of 44 years, Patricia Christian, and his son Jeffrey, 38 years.
He is survived by his son, Leland Christian and wife Neisys; daughter Janet Vickery and husband Jerry; grandsons Zachary Christian, Chase Lilly, Jacob Christian, and Hunter Hopkins; granddaughters Kassie Vickery and Jacqueline Vickery; and great-grandson Weston Reynolds, all of Hardin County. He is also survived by his sister Teresa Davis; sister-in-law Lunita Drinkard and husband Jerry of Huntingdon, Tenn.; and uncle, Landis Wilkes and wife Dorothy of Savannah.
Wendell was the son of the late Leland Leon Christian, and Dorothy Lore Wilkes Christian, of Huntingdon, in Carroll County, Tenn. Born on Aug. 21, 1941, and raised in Carroll County. Wendell had lived in Pickwick since 1987. He was married to the late Patricia Wheeler Christian in 1963. They had three children, Leland Reed, Jeffrey Alan, and Janet Lynn.
Wendell was a retired Tennessee Park Ranger, and was for many years stationed at Pickwick Landing State Park, initially as a horse mounted Ranger. He was also the programs director for much of that time, during which he instituted the Pickwick and Counce Christmas Parade and annual Lighting of the Park, the annual Fourth of July Fireworks, Easter Egg hunt, Spring and Fall Craft shows, and various Halloween activities for park visitors. Wendell’s influence on State Park programming is still in evidence today as many parks have copied his programs and styles for their own use, with assistance from Wendell himself.
Wendell was passionate about his work in Conservation, observing that the wild places of America were slowly disappearing, and that some places must be preserved so that future generations could see what North America had once looked like before the population of America had grown increasingly large, demanding more and more land for settlement. He believed that Tennessee Parks should be open to all, and provide services to local Tennesseans as well as tourists.
Wendell also served his country as a member of the Army, and the Tennessee National Guard, retiring with 28 years combined
service. He served as tank commander, artillery director, medical clerk, and recruiter, among other assignments in his long career.
Wendell was a member of the Pickwick Church of Christ, and a Thirty-Second degree Mason. Wendell worked over the years helping raise money for both the American Cancer Society, and St. Jude’s Children’s hospital. Wendell was a man who loved his family, and his friends. A public servant for most of his life, he was dedicated to service to others, even at his own expense. He has served as an example for those following in his footsteps of what can be done, with a little hard work and dedication.
Wendell had a great sense of humor. He loved to laugh, and he loved making other people laugh. He was also a great historian, who always seem to know items of historical importance that others overlooked. He always had a story to tell, usually relating to his work, family, or one of his many misadventures. As a historian, he was involved in civil war re-enacting, and enjoyed making trips to re-enactments, spending time with his friends.
He also loved to fish, which made his job even better for him, almost always working alongside the river somewhere.
Services were held on Sunday, Sept. 22, at Shackleford Shapel in Savannah with Chance Steen officiating.Wendell was interred at Walnut Grove Church of Christ cemetery, alongside his wife Patricia, and near their son, Jeffrey.
The Park Service Honor Guard served as pallbearers, and stood watch over him during his funeral, a final farewell to one of their own, who had spent over a third of his life serving others.