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Werner Zent, 1927-2018

Werner Michael Zent passed away peacefully Sunday, 22 April, 2018, in Albert Lea. His loving wife and family stayed by his bedside up to his final moments.

Werner Zent

Werner was born June 28, 1927, in a two-room farm house in Adams County, North Dakota, to Raphael and Mary (Renner) Zent. He was the sixth oldest in a family of 16 — eight girls and eight boys.

After courting the love of his life, Velma Eileen Strampher, for one year they married on June 16, 1952. Werner and Velma created a beautiful life on the rugged and often unforgiving prairies of North Dakota. As a devoted team they worked tirelessly at farming, ranching and raising a large family of eight.

In his later years after retiring from a successful and fulfilling farm life, he and Velma moved to Clarks Grove, where he owned and operated a flourishing woodworking shop. His customers were overcome with joy when he was able to bring their precious family heirlooms back to life.

Werner was not only a skilled carpenter — he was also an excellent mechanic and always took great care and pride in keeping everything he owned like new. Values that he possessed and his family admired most were his perseverance and honor. He was known to say “If you are going to do a job, do it right” and “Finish what you start.” His strong hands, perpetually calloused and chapped, were a physical testament to his hard work ethic. His children always marveled at those hands and were blessed to be able to hold them during his last days with them.

Werner embodied the true pioneer man; he always worked hard, loved his family, took time to enjoy the fruits of his labors and never forgot to be grateful to God for all his blessings.

Werner leaves his family with many wonderful thoughts and memories — his wonderful smile, twinkling blue eyes and sly witty humor are what they will carry in their hearts and minds forever. Werner loved to have fun and knew how to relax. He loved to nap and always took time out of his busy day to rest and rejuvenate. His family believes it is one reason he lived such a full and healthy life. He also cherished spending time with Velma, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Some of the things that brought him joy were Florida vacations, walking on the beach searching for the perfect sea shell, fishing and boating. Werner was dedicated to his large family of brothers and sisters, always staying in touch over long distances. He brought great energy and enthusiasm to their long conversations and debates on any subject, especially farming and politics. Family reunions and gatherings were special times for him and he was always very attentive to his nieces and nephews. Most can agree that Werner could really boogie woogie on the dance floor.

“So long for now, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, friend and neighbor. The crops are now in. You have made it home. A part of us all goes with you. Your spirit and strength will remain within us all. We are deeply grateful for having you in our lives and all the gifts you have given us. Werner, you followed the grain in your own wood.”

Werner is survived by his “Only Sunshine” and wife, Velma; seven children, Valerie Budd (Paul), Howard Zent (Jenny), Renee Ruble (Harry), Richard Zent (Gwen), Donald Zent (Priscilla), Jacqueline Zent (Joseph) and Deanna Zent; 14 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and sisters Delores Chambers, Eleanor Fortuna and Marie Dempsey.

He is preceded in death by daughter, Kimberly Zent; son-in-law, Daniel McDowell; parents Raphael and Mary, sisters Eunice, Lillian, Laura, Elsie and Irene; and brothers Kenneth, Ira, Clarence, Gerald, Curtis, Raymond and Arnold.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Theodore Catholic Church, 315 E. Clark St., Albert Lea, MN 56007. Visitation will be one hour prior.

The family wishes to thank St. John’s Lutheran Community and Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea Hospice for their exemplary care, kindness and love they showed to Werner.

In lieu of flowers, the family wishes donations be made to the donor’s favorite charity in Werner’s memory.