Elaine Louise (Smith) Wenger, 86, of Ceresco, passed away on Saturday, April 15, 2023 at The Villa’s at Winston Court in Marshall.
She was born on November 23, 1936 to Harley Nash and Beatrice Louise (Kipp) Smith in Battle Creek, Michigan. The family resided in the Verona District. Elaine went to Verona Elementary School starting in kindergarten to the 6th grade. She then attended W.K. Kellogg School from 6th through 8th grade and then graduated from Battle Creek Central High School in 1954. Upon graduating from high school, she enrolled at Western Michigan University in the secretarial program. The summer of 1954 she was employed at the Federal Center before starting college. Upon graduation from college, she was once again employed full-time at the Federal Center with the Federal Civil Defense Administration.
On October 5, 1957 she married Gordon Wenger at the First Congregational Church in Battle Creek. They moved to California where Gordon had a teaching job, and they raised their three sons. Elaine was employed at North American Aviation in Downey, California for 2 years, and then at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California until 1972. They returned to Michigan to be closer to family.
While employed at the Federal Center from 1954 through 1957 she worked under several office name changes FCKA (Federal Civil Defense Administration), OCD (Office of Civil Defense), OCDM (Office of Civil Defense Mobilization) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region IV and V. From 1956-1957 she worked for the Technical Tests Office for the Director. In July 1956, she was deployed to the Nevada Test site in Mercury, Nevada for 2 months with the Director for the Plumbbob series of atomic bomb tests. She witnessed several test explosions 3 miles away in the Nevada desert and upon returning to the office was required to develop a report.
When the family returned to Michigan in 1972, she was again employed by the Federal Center working for FEMA Region V and the United States Army Communications Command for the Director. Elaine retired in 1994.
Gordon and Elaine built a new home on several acres in Ceresco in 1973. They enjoyed growing and harvesting many crops and raising animals. She enjoyed exercising, traveling, cooking and baking.
Elaine is survived by her sons. Gordon Wenger II of Ceresco, Steven (Jill) Wenger of Mattawan and Scott Wenger of Mancelona; her grandchildren, Andrew Wenger of Florida, Brooke Wenger of East Lansing and Nicole Winters of St. Clair. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Gordon who passed away in 2020, her parents and her sister Carol Hawk.
A private memorial service for Elaine will take place at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Humane Society of South Central Michigan (2500 Watkins Rd. Battle Creek, MI 49015) or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (PO Box 5014 Hagerstown, MD 21741).
Arrangements were entrusted to Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services 2838 Capital Ave. SW Battle Creek, Michigan 49015. Please visit https://www,kempffuneralhome.com to view the online obituary, to sign the online guest book or to leave the family condolences.
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