Ponca City Information
Ponca City History Tid-Bits
Louis Haines Wentz
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LOUIS HAINES WENTZ
(November 10, 1877 to June 9, 1949)
Lew Wentz, the son of a blacksmith, was reared with six brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh, PA. He was born in Tama City, Iowa. He loved children, Shetland ponies, the Republican Party and baseball: playing, organizing teams, and coaching. He even tried to buy the St. Louis Cardinals in 1934.
An introvert who never married, Wentz wasn't shy about work. Too poor for college, Wentz was coaching high school ball and campaigning door to door for the GOP when he rang John McCaskey's bell. The wealthy McCaskey gave Wentz a chance to go to Ponca City, Oklahoma, and join E. W. Marland's oil venture on the 101 Ranch. In 1911, Wentz moved into Ponca's Arcade Hotel, and lived there the rest of his life.
Oil made Lew Wentz "the world's richest bachelor" by 1927. His mother's stern Methodist principles made Wentz a generous benefactor even in his lean years. Wentz secretly bought shoes, coats, and Christmas presents for children in Ponca City, sometimes borrowing money to fund his annual commitment.
Wentz lived a life of service. He provided funding for the Oklahoma Crippled Children's Society, built a public pool and camp in Ponca City, and quietly supported many worthy causes with the words: "When you mention my name, emphasize the "We" in Wentz." Wentz was known as "Daddy Longlegs."
In 1926, Lew Wentz established foundations for student loans at four Oklahoma colleges called the Lew Wentz Foundation. Wentz sold his oil interests just before the stock market crash of 1929 and increased his support for higher education. Shortly before his death, Wentz acquired a number of Texas oil leases.
Lewis Haines Wentz owned the Arcade Hotel that he lived in and Rock Cliff Ranch, northeast of Ponca City. He died at the Arcade Hotel June 9, 1949 and was buried in the Ponca City, International Order of Odd Fellows (I. O. O. F.) Cemetery located in Ponca City, OK. (1030 South Waverly).
In 1960, the Foundation petitioned the courts to make a unique addition to the loan policy. The prestigious Lew Wentz Work/Service Scholarship was established, giving students a chance to "work off" college costs through on-campus jobs.
Today, Wentz Scholarships of $2,500 per year. The Wentz emphasis on repayment continues as a debt to society; scholars are selected for performance, potential, and commitment. Wentz Research Project Award of $4,000 per year are also awarded as an investment in the future. Undergraduates apply for project funding in tandem with a faculty mentor. Applications outline a research project and summary paper that can be completed within an academic year. Research scholars use their funds for research materials and travel to professional conferences.
Lew Wentz Foundation has provided support to students who found success as Truman Scholars, a Rhodes Scholar, a National Honors Council Board Member and a national research award winner. The future is bright for all Wentz award winners.
Since the death of Lew Wentz, a four-member, volunteer board of directors has managed Lew Wentz Foundation. The first members were friends of Wentz, committed to preserving his values concerning public service, hard work, and his investments philosophies.
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