Vigen Memorial Home obituary – Charles James Wendorf - “Jim”, 87, formerly of Nauvoo


Charles James Wendorf - “Jim”, 87, of Prescott, AZ formerly of Nauvoo, IL, passed away Sunday, May 28, 2023.  He was born February 14th, 1936, in Kent, Ohio to Ladene Ellen Rawlinson and Charles Albert Wendorf. He was the 4th of six children.

Jim was very athletic and played football, baseball and golf. He went to Duke University on a full academic scholarship and graduated in 1959 with a commission as an officer in the Air Force.

He met Betty Jean Waldrop while training at a base near Winter Haven, FL. They were married on March 21, 1959. Jim and Betty had four children. Wendorf’s military assignments took him to Georgia, North Carolina, North Dakota, Thailand, Louisiana, Virginia, and California. He was part of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and flew B-52’s most of his career. However later in his career he was assigned to the Navy where he flew the command plane that could track every plane and nuclear bomb during a war. He retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel to Boulder, CO in 1979.

While in Boulder, Jim built homes, owned a snow removal, a lawn care, and trash removal businesses. In the early 80’s he received his master’s degree in business administration.

Jim was a very active member of the community and was a member of the optimist club where he helped mentor several youth. Jim was the liaison between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the construction company when the church built a Stake Center in Louisville, CO.

Jim always had his golf bag ready to go and played many rounds of golf. He loved snow skiing, especially with his kids. Camping was also one of his favorite activities while living in Minot.

Spending time with his family was always important to him.  Jim also added scuba diving to his adventures and was able to enjoy diving with his children Thomas and Kristie.

Jim was a big supporter of his children and grandchildren in their school, sports and church activities. He attended as much as he could while in the military. After he retired it was a lot easier to attend events. Sometimes he would just drive an hour and show up on the doorstep to get a hug from the grandkids.

He also served in several capacities in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints after he was baptized in 1970. But his service in the temple was his favorite. He served in the Denver, Washington DC, Nauvoo, Orlando and Phoenix temples. He served two temple missions with his late wife Betty.

After Betty passed in 2020, Jim decided to move to Prescott, AZ where one of his sons and his brother lives. In Nov 2021, Jim met Donna Bennett and was totally smitten. They were married Feb. 2, 2022. They were able to pack a whole lot of love, fun and trips into the past year and half. 

Jim's life was spared several times; once when he was flying a B-52 in Cold War airborne alert mission named Operation Chrome Dome in Jan 1966 his plane came apart mid-air and he had to parachute down into the Mediterranean Sea where he was rescued by a fisherman. He survived a life threating infection after surgery, 5 bouts with COVID, 2 heart attacks, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.

Jim will be dearly missed by wife Donna Bennett-Wendorf, children Kristie (Jim) Stockman, Laurie (Randy) Brown, Jimmy (Hitomi) Wendorf, Thomas (Shera) Wendorf. Step-children Ken (Jeanne) Bennett, David (Luan) Bennett, Terri (Andy) Stephens, Machelle (John) Craft, Lenora (Jeff) Bateman, Lisa (Jonathan) Brandt and John Bennett, 46 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren and a brother Peter (Jan) Wendorf. He is preceded in death by his late wife Betty Waldrop, parents Charles Wendorf and Ladene Rawlinson and siblings Ann Bryant, Susan Jalo, Jeffrey and Linda Call, son-in-law Greg Bement and grandson Mark Bement.

A graveside service with military rites will be held at the Nauvoo Cemetery in Nauvoo, Illinois on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 1pm.  

The Vigen Memorial Home in Keokuk, IA is assisting the family with arrangements.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

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