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Bruce Allen Wendell

October 4, 1941 December 13, 2008
Bruce Allen Wendell
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Obituary for Bruce Allen Wendell

Bruce Allen Wendell, age 67, of Lapeer, died peacefully in his home Saturday, December 13, 2008, after a brief however courageous battle with lung cancer.

He was born October 4, 1941, in Pontiac, MI, the only child to Earl Edward and Melba Romaine Wendell. He left home at an early age, eventually joining the Marine Corps, and spent years traveling in the states and abroad. He always considered Michigan his home, so in 1970, after completing two tours of duty in Vietnam, he returned to Pontiac and to his first wife Carol and their three children. Unfortunately, he also brought with him the horrors of war, and a beast called heroin addiction.

For approximately the next 20 years, Bruce worked for Grand Trunk Railroad, and other odd jobs as his addiction permitted. He generally loved women, yet several marriages and relationships also ended due to the chaos of a drug fueled lifestyle. He “hit bottom” in 1988 when the mother of his youngest daughter died, leaving him to raise his child alone. Bruce entered into a chemical dependency treatment program, embraced the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous, and never looked back.

A high school dropout, he returned to school, and by 1998 he had earned his Masters Degree in Social Work from Eastern Michigan University. He began working in Pontiac in a variety of programs as a chemical dependency therapist, specializing in treating the hard-core street addict like he had once been. In 2003, Bruce received awards from the Michigan Dept. of Community Health Office of Drug Control Policy and the Oakland County Health Division Office of Substance Abuse Services for his commitment to alcohol and drug recovery, and his courage and determination in living a healthy lifestyle, stating he was “a role model to many and a testament that recovery is possible when one has the faith and fortitude to make it a reality”.

Bruce also taught briefly an Introduction to Chemical Dependency at Oakland County Community College, but the last several years of his career were spent doing individual and group work at The Counseling Center in Bloomfield Hills. He felt most able to help impact a client’s successful recovery in this setting, and in his continued involvement with the self-help fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.

Bruce married his long time companion Rhonda in 2008, and he began to rebuild his relationships with his adult children. He said he was living the life he had always dreamed of, and was finally at peace with himself. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of lung cancer also came in 2008, and from August to December 2008, he rarely left the hospital due to the severity of complications he experienced from the chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In honoring his privacy, Bruce received only family as visitors while he was confined to the hospital, and in the end he requested a private family viewing to mourn his passing in his home the day prior to his death. Cremation has already taken place.

Besides many colleagues and long time friends from Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous, Bruce leaves behind his adoring wife Rhonda, his loving daughters Marina (Glen) Ford, Tina (Doug) Bucher, and Antonya Wendell, his loving sons Rio (Kristen) Wendell, and Neiko Wendell, his loving step-children Angie Acosta, Rashall Hensley, and Nicole (Andrew) Whitmore, several grandchildren, his first wife and long time friend Carol Wendell, and special friends Matt and Steve, whose support during Bruce’s illness was immeasurable. Bruce was preceded in death by his parents and within hours by his beloved and eldest grandson, Dane Marsino.

In memory of Bruce’s life and commitment to addiction recovery and to help those addicts who are still suffering, donations may be made in his name to Solutions to Recovery, 24 W. Tennyson Ave., Pontiac, MI 48340-2668 (248-454-0130).

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