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Bud Hentzen, CFCA co-founder, dies at 83

December 2, 2011

The CFCA community is mourning the passing of Bernard A. "Bud" Hentzen, CFCA co-founder and brother of CFCA President Bob Hentzen.

Bud Hentzen, CFCA co-founder
Bud Hentzen, CFCA co-founder, died Nov. 30, 2011, 
in Wichita. This photo from the CFCA archives
shows him with children in Guatemala.

Bud died Nov. 30, 2011, in Wichita. He was 83.

CFCA will celebrate Bud's life with joy and gratitude over the coming days, said Paco Wertin, CFCA chief executive officer.

"We hold him and his family in our hearts with prayers of gratitude for who Bud is for us and with confidence that he is in the loving arms of our God, sharing in the resurrection of Christ Jesus," Wertin said.

Building up CFCA

Four Hentzen siblings – Bud, CFCA President Bob Hentzen, the late Jim Hentzen and Nadine Pearce – and the late Jerry Tolle combined their talents and commitment to helping people in poverty, and CFCA was officially incorporated on Nov. 20, 1981. Bud was then working in the construction business, having founded Hentzen Contractors Inc. in Wichita.

"I'm convinced that we hit on an idea, a thing we do in our positions as Catholic lay people," Bud said of sponsorship as a way to address poverty. "We are convinced it is an integral part of the Catholic social doctrine."

Bud, a respected businessman, served CFCA in various capacities, most recently as director emeritus of the board.

His contributions helped the organization grow from a small home-based charity into one of the 200 largest U.S. nonprofit organizations listed by Forbes. Since CFCA's founding, sponsors and donors have contributed more than $1 billion in total revenue, resulting in more than 650,000 children, youth and aging persons and their families being served through the sponsorship program.

Meet the founders and listen to them describe the early years of CFCA
in their own words.

Bud was also active in various Catholic organizations, including 40 years in the Knights of Columbus, Serra Club and Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, a pontifical society entrusted with preserving Christian sites in the Holy Land.

"Bud was closely tied to the Catholic Church," said Scott Wasserman, chief governing officer of the CFCA board. "He loved the Catholic Church. He was the face of CFCA to many of the church institutions — Catholic Press Association, Knights of Columbus, Serra Club."

Through the years, Bud remained an active member of CFCA and recently traveled to Kansas City to attend a board meeting and celebrate the organization's 30th anniversary.

His involvement in Serra Club inspired Bud to create the CFCA vocations program, where candidates studying to be priests and religious sisters are sponsored. He was also a supporter of the Catholic press, having attended many meetings of the Catholic Press Association over the years.

He was committed to living the Catholic Church's social teachings through solidarity with those living in poverty.

"Bud, along with Bob and Nadine, was one of our key connections to the founding of CFCA. It's their charism that the board is attempting to perpetuate," Wasserman said. "The charism has remained unchanged – in their transparency, responsibility to sponsors and practicing the preferential option for the poor."

Life story

Bud was the sixth child born in a family of 14 children. He graduated from Redemptorist High School in Kansas City, Mo.

After high school, he joined the Navy and served two years as a seaman in California and Florida.

He attended the University of Kansas in 1947, graduating in 1951 with an industrial management certificate. He also served as a second lieutenant in the Air Force, stationed in England for several years and discharged in 1953.

Bud returned to Wichita after completing his military service and started Hentzen Contractors Inc. It is operated today by two of his sons, Bernard M. "Bernie" and Robert A. "Bob" Hentzen.

Bud also served as a Sedgwick County commissioner from 1985 to 1992.

He married Joanne Wilkes in 1949 at Redemptorist Church. The two had met in high school. They had 10 children and 52 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Funeral services

A funeral Mass for Bud will be at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 5 at St. Jude Catholic Church in Wichita.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to CFCA or to the St. Jude Catholic Church Building Fund.

See Bud's obituary in the Wichita Eagle.

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