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BERTRAM F. WENDT, PLAYED IN FIRE COMPANY BAND

Bertram F. Wendt, 74, a cymbal player in the Sanborn Fire Company Band since 1945, died Sunday (Jan. 23, 2000) in Sisters Hospital after a long illness.

Wendt had joined the fire company in 1943, but his passion was the fire company's award-winning 60-piece marching band. In an interview with The Buffalo News in July 1999, he said, "The band comes first -- besides my church."

So dedicated was Wendt that he kept playing the cymbals in a wheelchair during the last three years of parades, because a back injury kept him from marching fast enough to keep up with his bandmates.

"Back in '95, I injured my back trying to restart a snowblower after it stalled," Wendt said in the interview. "When I pulled the cord, it kicked back and twisted my back. Then the arthritis set in."

A Sanborn native, Wendt attended local elementary schools and Trott Vocational High School in Niagara Falls.

He worked at Hoover's Dairy in Sanborn, and then at A.E. Gombert Lumber Co. in North Tonawanda before taking a job as a mill worker and truck driver at Sanborn Milling Co. for more than 20 years. In later years, he delivered flowers every spring for Sanborn Greenhouse.

Wendt served six years on the fire company board of directors. When he became an exempt member, he took up fire police duties and served as fire police captain from 1981 to 1996.

On Jan. 11, 1992, the Town of Lewiston presented him its first firemen's incentive award.

Wendt was a longtime member of St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wheatfield. He was a church trustee for eight years, Sunday school secretary for 20 years and custodian of St. Peter's Lutheran School for 29 years.

He was a former member of the LaSalle Sportsmen's Club and an avid fan of the New York Yankees.

Survivors include his wife of 49 years, the former Norine M. Walck; three daughters, Sally A. Kelley of Cleveland, Tenn., and Laurie L. Draper and Darlene C. Giannini, both of Wheatfield; five brothers, Donald, Glenn, William B. Jr., Kenneth, and Forrest; a sister, Gracellyn Bilek; and four grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday in St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 6168 Walmore Road, Wheatfield. Burial will be in St. Peter's Lutheran Cemetery, Wheatfield.

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