Wendell H. Houck passed away peacefully at the family ranch in Herald on April 17, 2023. Wendell was 102 years old.
Wendell was born on January 14, 1921 near Delia, Kansas on the Potawatomi Reservation along with four brothers and three sisters. He and his three younger brothers made their way to California eventually stopping in Sacramento where Wendell worked at Capital Nursery along with his older brother. This is where he met Florence Gudel. They married in 1946.
Prior to 1941, Wendell joined the US Army Air Corp which later became the US Air Force. He and Florence made their first home in Germany. Wendell served throughout WWII.
After the war, Wendell was stationed at Rhein-Main Air Base, which was a key airbase during the Berlin Airlift, which lasted from June 24, 1948 through May 12, 1949. The Soviet Union had decided to block access to West Berlin in hopes of gaining control of Berlin by stopping all food and fuel supply effectively starving those who lived there. Since the only way to get supplies to the people of West Berlin was by air, the western Allies organized the Berlin Airlift to carry supplies to the people of West Berlin. There were over 200,000 flights in one year, providing the badly needed food and fuel. Wendell was the Chief control tower operator at Rhein-Main airbase in charge of all the incoming and outgoing flights, which averaged 600 per day. Wendell was recognized for his contribution by being awarded the army commendation ribbon for the duties he performed as Chief of the Rhein-Main Control Tower during the airlift.
In 1965, after 25 years in the Armed Forces which included WWII, Korea and Vietnam, Wendell retired as a Chief Master Sergeant and settled in Galt where his wife, Florence was from. He joined the Galt Police Department upon graduating from the academy. Officer Houck was loved by many. He always had a smile on his face and treated people kindly and fairly. He had the heart of a public servant. Wendell retired in 1981 and became a full-time cattle rancher while remaining in the police reserves for many years.
In 1998, after nearly 52 years of marriage, Wendell lost the wife of his youth to cancer, but God blessed him with a friend and wife in the person of Lana Geist. They have been married for 24 years. Together they managed the 466 acre cattle ranch in Herald up to the day of his passing. There was nothing Wendell enjoyed more than having his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren experience ranch life. So many wonderful memories with friends and relatives were made at the ranch over the years and during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays that will be treasured forever.
Wendell is survived by his wife Lana; daughters Gerry Bryant, Joanne Seibel (Dennis) and Jean Moersch (Bill); brothers Leroy Houck and John Houck (Marjorie); grandchildren Wendy Bryant, Erik Bryant (Krista), Brandon Seibel (Tricia), Dustin Seibel (Mattie ), Ryan Seibel (Amanda), Shawn Landers (Ashley), Bethany Smith (Jeremy), Zach Landers (Jessica); and fifteen great-grandchildren with number sixteen arriving in September.
We would like to thank the staff of UC Davis Medical Center, Vitas Hospice, Ben Salas Funeral Home, Galt-Arno Cemetery and Faith Community Church for their love and care for Wendell and his family during this difficult time.
There will be a celebration of life for Wendell Houck on Saturday, May 20th at 11am, at Faith Community Church, 18621 N 99 Frontage Road, Acampo, CA 95220.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation or the American Cancer Society.
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