Wayne D. Wardwell, Jr.
February 16, 1930-June 29, 2021
Wayne Doran Wardwell, Jr., died at his home in Hamilton, MT, on June 29, 2021, at the age of 91. Born on February 16, 1930, in Columbus, OH, he was the eldest son of Rev. Dr. Wayne Doran Wardwell, Sr., and Dr. Frances Rabb Wardwell. At the age of 6 months, Wayne went to India with his parents, who were Presbyterian missionaries, and lived in Fatehgarh, Saharanpur, and Mussoorie.
Wayne had many adventures in India, including attending Woodstock School in Mussoorie, and traveling around the world by ship twice before he reached 18 years of age. During this formative time, he learned from his father a love of the mountains and of photography. These things, as well as his fascination with tigers and love of Indian food, never wavered throughout his 91 years!
Upon returning to the States when he was 17, Wayne attended Ohio State University, the largest U.S. school on a single campus at the time. This was a drastic change from the small, rural Indian school he had attended, and he struggled somewhat with the social differences. Attending a youth group in Columbus with a friend, he met and began dating Naomi Smith, who helped him with the transition. They were married on June 8, 1952, in the Linden Church of Christ in Columbus, and supported each other through life until her death in 2015.
Wayne attended Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, serving several small rural churches during the time that he was in seminary. In May 1954, two weeks prior to Wayne’s graduation, he and Naomi welcomed their first son, Wayne Kimberly (Kim). After graduation, the family moved across the river to in Cincinnati, OH, where Wayne served as Youth Minister at the Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church. They were blessed with their daughter, Kathryn Jo (Kathy), in November 1955.
Because Wayne missed the mountains of India, he moved his family West, accepting a job as assistant minister at the First Presbyterian Church in Twin Falls, ID, which allowed him to spend time in the nearby Sawtooth Mountains.
In January 1959, Wayne moved his family to Parma, ID, and became pastor of Kirkpatrick Memorial Presbyterian Church, where he remained for the next 16 years. A son, John Lloyd, was born in April 1960, completing the family.
During this time, Wayne spent many wonderful times in the Sawtooths, and began sharing his passion for them with adults and youth alike. In addition to making lifelong friendships while backpacking and camping throughout the beautiful lakes and mountains, many wonderful memories were also made, which transitioned to grand stories later in his life. (Ask anyone in the family about the disastrous “wheelbarrow trip”!) As recently as a couple of weeks prior to his passing, Wayne talked about his love of Lake Lucille, which he said was “one of my favorite places on earth!”
In 1974, Wayne and Naomi moved to Hamilton, MT, where Wayne served as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church for the next 20 years, and spent many hours volunteering in the community. He was particularly proud of being a co-founder of Ravalli Services Corporation for the Developmentally Disabled in Hamilton. Wayne also became an avid fly-fisherman, traveling the local rivers with his fishing buddies, in search of the best catch of the day.
After retiring in 1994, Wayne and Naomi traveled, starting with a trip to Norway to visit Jens Brun-Pedersen, their exchange student son back in 1971-72. Other trips followed: to the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Africa, and ultimately volunteering as mission workers back at Woodstock School in Mussoorie, India, where Wayne had spent his childhood.
Wayne had many hobbies, including backpacking, canoeing, reading, and fishing, but he will long be remembered for his skill with and dedication to photography. Many of Wayne’s beautiful photographs were donated for auction to raise money for community needs, while other photos grace the walls of Sapphire Lutheran Homes, where Wayne and Naomi spent their last years, as well as the homes of many of their friends and family. The ever-present camera was one of Wayne’s greatest joys, and his mastery of PhotoShop provided many hours of enjoyment.
Wayne was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Noel; sisters Frances and Ruth; wife Naomi; and son John. He is survived by his sister Nellie Frailey (Fairview, MI); son Kim (Annie) Wardwell of Boise, ID; daughter Kathy (Bryan) Slinker, of Pullman, WA; grandchildren, Michael (Caroline) Wardwell of Darrington, WA; Hillary (Eric) Anderson, of Hilliard, OH; Kyle Slinker, of Durham, NC; and Sarah Slinker of Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo; 2 great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; and many, many friends.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Sapphire Lutheran Homes for the wonderful care and friendship during Wayne’s last years, and also thank Dr. Robert Smith and Marcus Daly Hospice for the excellent care they provided.
A memorial service honoring Wayne will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Hamilton on July 17, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. Memorial gifts may be given to the Presbyterian Deacons’ Fund or to Ravalli Services Corporation.
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