August 13, 2022
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CLU advocate Howard Wennes passes at 83

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Howard Wennes, a minister who played key roles in the development of California Lutheran University, passed away July 12 following a recent hospitalization.

His death at age 83 was announced in a statement from CLU President Lori Varlotta.

Known as “Howie” he and his wife Mary, were advocates for California Lutheran during more than a decade as Bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. After he retired, he joined the CLU staff as assistant to the president and twice served as interim president of CLU during two extended searches for new leadership. He also served as a longtime university regent.

Known for his low-key style and good humor, he welcomed new leadership at CLU and championed diversity and inclusion; an interfaith chapel on the Thousand Oaks campus is named for the Wennes family. 

Wennes received his bachelor’s degree in economics from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, his Master of Divinity from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and his Doctor of Ministry from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley in 1982. He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Cal Lutheran in 1987.  

He worked abroad for several years, working with faith communities in Australia, Africa, Hong Kong, Central America and Europe. He chaired the Lutheran World Relief Board, served on the Inter-Lutheran Task Force on Health and Wellness, and worked for the ELCA Hunger Appeal.

Wennes was awarded Cal Lutheran’s Christus Award in 2009, which highlighted his work at strengthening the ties between the church and the university. Wennes is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Sally and son Tim.

Tim Wennes, currently U.S. CEO for Bank Santander, is a veteran banker with deep ties to the Central Coast region. A son, David, died in 1999.

A memorial service is planned for August, CLU said.