YORK — Sandra J. Wendell, 62, of Axtell died Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, at Hearthstone in York.

Celebration of life services will be 11 a.m. Friday at Bethany Lutheran Church in Minden with the Rev. Donald Hunzeker and the Rev. Gale Dorn officiating. Private family interment will be prior to services at Minden Cemetery.

Visitation will be 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Axtell.

Craig Funeral Home in Minden is in charge of arrangements.


Sandra June Reinke was born June 9, 1957, in Deshler to Richard and Edna (Pohlmann) Reinke of Hebron, and was baptized on June 23, 1957, at Grace Lutheran Church in Hebron.

In 1960, she moved with her family to rural Deshler attending both public and parochial school. She affirmed her baptism on April 4, 1971, at Peace Lutheran Church in Deshler. She graduated from Deshler High School in 1975. Following graduation she attended Omaha Art School and Kearney State College where she completed a B.A. in Art Education.

Following her marriage to Doug Ehlers in 1977, she was blessed with a son, Derek Austin in 1981, and daughter Jordan Danielle in 1991. They called Minden, Nebraska home with the exception of two years spent in Evansville, Ind.

The majority of Sandi’s teaching experience was in Minden teaching elementary and secondary art. While teaching, she was active in ESU 11 Art Teachers and the Nebraska Art Teachers Association. In 1989, she received her M.A. in Art Education from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

In 2000, Sandi married Steve Wendell becoming stepmother to Josh, Dani, Sami and Kassie Wendell. They lived in Minden a short time before moving to rural Axtell where Steve and Sandi made their home.

Following a second B.A. in Visual Communication and Graphic Design, Sandi worked as a graphic designer in Kearney and taught part time at UNK. In 2007, she joined her family business located in Deshler by managing Reinke Land Co. and serving on the Board of Directors at Reinke Manufacturing Co. Inc.

Sandi served on the Nebraska Community Foundation Board, Nebraska 4-H Foundation Board, Minden Opera House Board and Trinity Lutheran Church Council. She was a founding member of the Axtell Community Fund and served on its Advisory Council.

She is survived by husband, Steve Wendell, of rural Axtell; children, Derek Ehlers and wife Julie of Lincoln, and Jordan Ehlers of Hastings; stepchildren, Kassie Wendell, Josh Wendell and wife Jessi, all of Omaha, Dani Wendell and partner Megan Roan of Federal Way, Wash., Sami Foster and her husband Dan of New York City; grandchildren, Violet and Myles Ehlers of Lincoln; and stepgrandchildren, Eva and Oliver Wendell of Omaha; mother, Edna A. Reinke of Deshler; mother-in-law, Marjorie Wendell of Kearney; siblings, Jennifer Reinke of Hebron, Russ Reinke and wife Sharon, Robert Reinke and wife Becky, and Pat Schardt, all of Deshler; brothers-in-law, Lowell Wendell of Palm Springs, Calif., Don Wendell and wife Pam of Littleton, Colo., Alan Wendell and wife Dee of Fort Washington, Pa., and Jason Ehlers and wife Collette of Lincoln; sisters-in-law, Jennie Rodriquez and husband Ernie of Gothenburg and Deb Kaenel of Minden.

Preceding her in death are her father, Richard F. Reinke; fathers-in-law, Robert Wendell and Don Ehlers; mother-in-law, Emma Jean Ehlers; and brother-in-law, Steve Ehlers.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Be The Match, M.O.N.A., or to the Axtell Community Fund.

Tributes and memories can be shared with the family at www.craigfunerals.com.

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