UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — Chris Wenzler, professionally known as the director of the John Carroll University’s Sports Information Department for more than 30 years and known personally as a father, teacher and mentor to many, died at 52 on Tuesday after a more than two-year battle with multiple myeloma, the university confirmed Wednesday.
Survived by his wife Melissa Wenzler and children, Madelina and Oliver, the university said they are joined by thousands of “Wenzler’s Warriors” who supported him throughout this cancer diagnosis and treatment.
For more than 30 years, he was known as a tireless supporter of the university’s student athletes. He began his time at John Carroll as an undergraduate, where he studied communications and wrote for The Carroll News. He continued the family legacy started by his father, Martin Wenzler ’64.
Four months after graduating in 1990, he was named to the Sports Information post where he quickly became a fixture in the athletic department. From there, he was rose to the ranks as John Carroll’s first Assistant Athletic Director for Communications. In 2019, he was elected to the JCU Athletic Hall of Fame.
When he first started in the sports information office, the staff consisted of three students and one computer. Throughout the decades leading the department, the staff size has grown to more than 40 student employees, a graduate assistance and multimedia.
One of his more notable contributions was that in 2006, he became one of the first sports information directors at the NCAAA Division III level to implement a 40-event video webcast schedule for the internet, according to the JCU.
Following the announcement of his death, tributes and condolences poured in on social media.
JCU’s Men’s Soccer Associate Head Coach called Wenzler in a tweet, “one of the kindest, most genuine and hardest working men I've ever met.”
Chris Wenzler was one of the kindest, most genuine and hardest working men I've ever met. The definition of selfless. A true "Man of Carroll". Rest easy friend, we'll hold down the fort for you. Until we meet again Bossman... 🐐⚡️🐐⚡️🐐 #LegendsNeverDie #WenzlersWarriors pic.twitter.com/9gou8ja5M0— Deki (@DekiMladenovic6) June 24, 2020
The university's softball team issued a statement on his death.
We lost an amazing man and a huge part of not only our softball family, but the entire JCU family today. You will be missed more than can be put into words, which you were always so great with. Love you @BigDaddyWenz and rest peacefully now #onwardon pic.twitter.com/F6ArN2WJAm— JCU Softball (@jcu_softball) June 24, 2020
Kyle Kelly, who identifies himself in his Twitter bio as an assistant at John Carroll Sports, called him an "amazing mentor and teacher."
I’ve had many people reach out to send their condolences to me. I truly cannot thank those enough who have shared their sadness with me.— Kyle Kelly (@ByKyleKelly) June 24, 2020
My heart breaks for his wife Melissa, son Oliver, and daughter Madeline. Chris was an incredible professional but a true Man for Others. AMDG. https://t.co/5i5XwnCNT0
Longtime friend and founder of SIDEARM sports, Jeff Rubin, remembered his friend of more 10 years.
My heart is heavy. Chris Wenzler (@BigDaddyWenz) was a longtime friend (since 2007) of @SIDEARMSports . He was always kind, considerate, and caring. Chris lost his 2+ year battle with cancer last night, just hours after writing this Facebook post. pic.twitter.com/3AT0zoohKb— Jeff Rubin (@jhrubin) June 24, 2020
Services for Wenzler will be announced in the coming days, the university said.