William Budd Wentz, M.D. died peacefully on January 10, 2015, at the age of 90. Budd was born on August 9, 1924, to Alonzo Budd Wentz and Bessie Mitchell Wentz. Growing up in Riverside, New Jersey, Budd had an adventurous and eventful childhood growing up in the Great Depression and experiencing the events leading up to World War II. Budd is predeceased by his younger brother, Arthur Robert Wentz, who is survived by his loving wife, Claire Lobel Wentz, of Thorofare, New Jersey.
Upon graduating from high school in 1941, Budd worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad in Philadelphia. While commuting to the PRR, Budd met the love of his life Elizabeth Jane Moore – affectionately known as Bette – who also worked for the PRR. On their first date, they danced to the Tommy Dorsey Band, featuring Frank Sinatra, at the Earl Theater in Philadelphia.
Budd enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in 1942 and was assigned to the 8th Air Force, 487th Bomb Group Heavy in Lavenham, England, where he piloted B-17’s in 24 missions over Germany. His final mission was chronicled by the History Channel in the show “Dogfights.” A recorded interview with Budd about this fateful mission can be found at http://www.cleveland.com/worldatwar/index.ssf/2008/08/budd_wentz_and_the_great_big_w.html. Budd was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain, and he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross among other citations.
Upon returning to Riverside, Budd and Bette married. Budd completed his studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree. While schooled in the sciences, his membership in Delta Phi Alpha, a national German language honor society is indicative of his intellectual curiosity. Budd and Bette’s first child, Kurt Budd Wentz, was born while Budd was completing his undergraduate studies. Their daughter, Karen Wentz McCrary, was born five years later.
In 1954, while working at the U.S. Naval Air Development Center in Johnsville, Pennsylvania, conducting high altitude stress and physiology research for the space program (that later became NASA) and nearing the completion of his Ph.D. at Penn, Budd was offered a scholarship to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, allowing him to fulfill a boyhood dream of becoming a physician. Budd’s four years of medical school were among the happiest of his life. He was elected class president, named to Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, and awarded the Borden prize for research. He received his M.D. in 1958. While in Medical School, Bette and Budd met Michael “Chick” and Helen Poloyac and their children, Michael and Krstina. The Wentz and Poloyac families became lifelong family friends.
Budd completed a rotating internship and five-year residency in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology at the Lankenau Hospital of Jefferson Medical College. Thereafter, he joined the faculty of Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia. While at Hahnemann, Bette and Budd’s youngest son, John Peter Wentz, was born.
In 1966, Budd returned to his alma mater in Cleveland and became a tenured professor of reproductive biology. His former colleague Dr. Fadi Abdul-Karim explains the significance of Budd’s research: “Dr. Wentz and Dr. James Reagan were the pillars of Gynecologic oncology at Case Western Reserve University. Together they embodied the concepts of collaborative effort between gynecology and pathology to the betterment of patient care and scientific research. Dr. Wentz co-edited the book ‘New Concepts in Gynecologic Oncology’ which was the authoritative book on that topic. Dr. Wentz’s passion was his research into the pathogenesis of pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions of the uterine cervix. This innovative research was ground breaking in the recognition of the role of human papilloma virus (HPV) in the pathogenesis of this disease.” Budd authored and co-authored approximately 100 peer reviewed papers, several with Dr. Reagan and Dr. Don Anthony.
A frequent lecturer, Budd spoke at international conferences in London, Buenos Aires, Vienna, and Denmark. He was also a founding member of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology and one of the few non-pathologists to receive the Papanicolaou Award from the American Society of Cytopathology. In 1989 he retired as Emeritus Professor.
Budd and Bette embarked on an active retirement, splitting their time between Hilton Head Island and Shaker Heights. They derived special enjoyment in spending time with their children and their beloved grandchildren. Devoted tennis players, Budd and Bette were among the initial members of the Cleveland Racket Club in 1967, and Budd continued to play until the age 86.
A voracious reader, avid gardener, and music enthusiast, few subjects escaped his curiosity. His reading covered vast topics, including history, travel, art, language, and linguistics.
In 2002 Budd and his son-in-law Tom McCrary started crafting and documenting his military experiences to make them available on the internet. These accounts led to numerous collaborations across the U.S. and Europe, and reacquainted Budd with a fellow Aviation Cadet classmate Herb Wilkov after 60 years. Budd lectured and/or recorded his wartime experiences for the Smithsonian Museum; the History Channel; the Cleveland Plain Dealer; the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia; the Military Aviation Preservation Society Museum in North Canton, Ohio; and the Escape and Evadees Society. He also volunteered and contributed personal wartime artifacts to the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum and attended Air Force reunions with the 487th Bomb Group. In more recent years, he was involved with the Maps Air Museum where an exhibit recounts his service in World War II.
Budd is survived by his wife of 69 years, Elizabeth Moore Wentz; his son Kurt Wentz and wife Sharon Greenberg Wentz, of Houston, Texas; his daughter Karen Wentz McCrary and husband Thomas McCrary, of Shaker Heights; his son J. Peter Wentz and wife Amy Ryder Wentz, of South Euclid; and his grandchildren Andrew McCrary of Cleveland and Mary Helen Wentz of South Euclid.
Budd embraced life with incredible joy, enthusiasm, and humor, giving to it and taking from it all that he could. The family thanks the staff and hospice team of Judson Park’s Breuning Health Care Center for their compassion and care. Special thanks is extended for their assistance and guidance in Budd’s final days.
A memorial service will be held at Judson Park Auditorium on Saturday, January 24th at 3:00 p.m. Judson Park has two entrances: one is located at 2181 Ambleside Drive, where covered parking is available, the other is at 1801 Chestnut Hills Drive where parking is outdoors.