Obituary – Wendell C. Brainerd


Wendell C. Brainerd, 71, passed away suddenly Wednesday, January 30, 2008 on Lopez Island, WA from an aortic defect.

Wendell was committed to the good work of the Lutheran Church in the San Juans, the Lopez Island Lions Club, Lopez Island Hospice and Home Support, and Lopez Senior Services.

Wendell was born on June 14, 1936 in Ladysmith, Wisconsin to Harry and Elinor Brainerd. He spent his boyhood on the family dairy farm in nearby Bruce with his brothers, Philip and David, and his sister, Carolyn.

In 1956, Wendell married Dorothy Kernwein, also of Bruce, and joined the Marines. After Boot Camp in San Diego, the couple moved to Brooklyn, NY where Wendell finished his service.

Wendell attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1964. He subsequently went to work for General Motors in Milwaukee. Wendell and Dorothy had four children, David Wendell, Julie Ann, Cynthia Marie, and Daniel Clark. During 1970, Wendell’s work with GM included development of an Air Force Electronic Fuze Program. When research was transferred from Milwaukee to Santa Barbara in 1972, the family moved to California.

Wendell continued to work on the Fuze Program for the next eight years. Working in Systems Safety Analysis and Design Support, Wendell created innovations with the FMU-112/B Fuze System that became the prototype for what the Air Force is using today.

After Dorothy and Wendell divorced, Wendell met Linda Gallo at Delco and married her in 1982. Wendell and Linda had one child, Amy Elizabeth.

During his work with General Motors at Delco Electronics in Santa Barbara, Wendell attended the University of Washington Systems Safety and Reliability Analysis Short Course.

Wendell also earned an MS in computer engineering at the University of California at Santa Barbara. In his final years with Delco, Wendell performed Failure Modes and Effects Analysis and later headed up the Reliability Engineering activity. He worked on the TITAN Missile Guidance, the Delta Guidance Computer, the Apollo Guidance for NASA, the Mark 48 Torpedo for the Navy, and the Carousel Commercial Airliner Passenger Navigation System, which was used in 84 of the world’s airlines at its peak.

Wendell retired from Delco in 1993 and the family moved to Lopez Island in the beautiful San Juans. Wendell started a small business, Lopez Home Repair, and was also able to pursue his dream of farming for a few years before health issues intervened. He came to spend most of his time on Lions Club and Church work. He loved to learn. He loved Lopez Island and its people. He was a family man through and through, always supporting his children and loving his wife. In 2007 Wendell and Linda were able travel to Hawaii and to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, renewing their vows to one another.

Wendell is survived by his wife and daughter, Linda and Amy, both of Lopez Island; children, David Brainerd of Goleta California, Julie Carr of Bentonville, Arkansas, Cynthia Beecher of Kennewick, Washington, and Danny Brainerd of Ventura, California; his mother, Elinor; brothers, Philip and David Brainerd, all of Mena, Arkansas; his sister, Carolyn of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and his grandchildren, Casey, Megan, Elliot and Lily Brainerd, all of Goleta, California.

We, Wendell’s family, thank God for our time with him and will miss him the rest of our lives.

A Memorial Service is planned for Saturday, February 16 at 2:00 p.m. at Center Church on Lopez Island. A reception will follow immediately at the Golf Club. All are invited; attendees at the reception are asked to bring a dish of finger food. Remembrances may be made to the Lions Club.

Arrangements are in the care of Evans Funeral Chapel and Crematory, Inc., Anacortes, WA and San Juan Islands. To share memories of Wendell, pleases sign the online guest register at