Wendell John Lehr

Wendell John Lehr passed away on January 2, 2022 at his home in Los Altos Hills three days after his 95th birthday. Wendell was born on December 30, 1926 in Fresno to Charles Wendell and Agnes Thompson Lehr. The family moved several times during Wendell’s early childhood, finally settling in Los Altos in 1936. His father was a building contractor, his mother an outstanding elementary school teacher.


An exceptional student, Wendell graduated high school at age 16 and began college at UC Berkeley. After receiving the Ruth Stern Scholarship for outstanding service as an Eagle Boy Scout, he transferred to Stanford University. His studies were then interrupted by WWII for two years’ service in the Navy. After returning to Stanford, he completed a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1949. Much later, he earned an MBA from Pepperdine University. He spent most of his career at Varian Associates, working as a marketing manager until retirement in 1985.


Wendell met Joyce Browne at Stanford. They were wed in 1955 and raised three daughters in the home that he built with his own hands in Los Altos Hills. Family life was of primary importance to Wendell—he spent most of his free time maintaining and improving the home or taking the family on weekend excursions and summer vacations. Wendell and Joyce remained happily married until her premature death in 1993. He then met Doris Arensberg, also recently widowed, and married again in 1996.


Wendell loved the outdoors, especially the High Sierra. He began camping with Boy Scouts, and as an adult, he backpacked annually for many years—even with his young children. His interest in music began in childhood, when he studied the violin, and developed into a lifelong passion for classical music, which he shared with Doris, an elementary school music teacher. He also loved to travel—especially after retirement—to Europe and many other destinations. He came to know Paris well enough to adeptly drive around in search of enticing restaurants. He also enjoyed amateur wine-making for 25 years, and after retirement, volunteered for the Los Altos Historical Society.


Wendell was a loving husband, devoted father, grandfather, and stepfather, a loyal and trusted friend. When asked for advice, he was known to offer a measured, insightful response.


He is survived by his wife Doris; daughters Ann Lehr, Lisa Lehr, and Kate Evard; former son-in-law Greg Evard; grandchildren Steven (Nicole), Noelle (Joe), Natalie, Siena, and Lia; sister Linda Lehr-Anning (John); brother-in-law Todd Browne; step-children Micky Arensberg (Nila), John Arensberg (Heidi Ertl), Kathleen Arensberg (Chris Campbell), and three step-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by younger brothers Tom and Nick Lehr. The family wishes to thank caregiver Pam Mariaca for her meticulous attention and devotion during Wendell’s last months. A celebration of life will take place at a later date. Contributions in memory of Wendell may be made to the Sempervirens Fund or to your favorite animal rights or environmental cause.