Chris H. Menzel

Passed away  January 5, 2022

Photo No. 2531

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Online obituary not available

The Measure of Chris Menzel's Life

When we lose those close to us there is a rush to summarize that person's expanse into a few brief paragraphs. We distill their life into the finer points of birth, education, career, family, and accomplishments. But how do we really measure a life?

Our lives are far richer and more complex than the milestone dots on a timeline. My father, Chris H. Menzel, lived a beautiful and purposeful life and leaves behind a legacy of curiosity, generosity, and an abundance of love. I'd love to share with you how I am measuring this great man's life.

Born in Port Arthur, Texas in 1945, he was the son of Herbert and Gertrude Menzel and brother to Linda Menzel-Aranda. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and Lamar University. It was while a college student he met the love of his life, Kathy Lounsberry. Mom and Dad married in 1970, and I completed our family in 1976.

Dad had a remarkable career in environmental management. He worked for over 20 years for Gulf States Utilities (GSU). He began his work in the system production lab and helped pioneer the new field of environmental management for the company. He liaised between the system lab and the EPA and state and local environmental organizations. He went on to form and lead the GSU Environmental Department until the buyout of GSU by Entergy. Dad was the first GSU employee dedicated solely to environmental concerns. Following his career at GSU, he went on to build his own business, Wastewater Consultants, Inc. in 1995 and consulted as a registered sanitarian for 18 years in Boerne, Texas prior to retirement.

A lifelong learner and avid outdoorsman, Dad married his love for nature and God's creatures and became a Certified Texas Master Naturalist. He volunteered at Guadalupe State Park and Honey Creek State Natural Area giving nature tours to guests. He took our family to Guadalupe State Park in the spring to catch, tag and release a special swallow that migrated to that area for research. Dad also was hunting and fishing enthusiast. He loved communing with nature, the sport of matching his skills against wild animal instincts and valued the conservation role that responsible hunting and fishing provided. He was an avid collector of rifles, pistols, and knives and knew the history and details of what made each one special. He loved sharing his knowledge of how to safely use them. Dad even made wooden rifles for his grandkids to help them practice gun safety before he gave them their first BB guns. There was always deer meat and fish in the freezer for him to cook you some backstrap or put on a fish fry for friends and family.

My dad had an incredible mind. His was an amalgamation of an engineer's precision and an artist s eye for creativity and beauty. His hobbies and passions reflected this gifting. Before I was born, he enjoyed pen and ink drawings of nature, and crafting his own homemade wines. Later in life he took up microphotography and would gently put insects to sleep and pose them for extraordinary photos. He loved that he could capture the beauty in the small things.

Dad built his first woodworking shop in 1980 in Lumberton and would spend his evenings relaxing there with his trusty beagle, Sandy. He built furniture and home décor including a beautiful cradle that has been lovingly passed through our family for two generations now. His shop was more than the physical space to give life to his creations, it was a gathering space. Friends and family often joined dad in the shop to see his latest project, talk about life, and share a cold beer. As a child I learned the types of woods and how to use tools in that shop, but the real education was in the life lessons dad imparted while we worked. He made sure that his house in Boerne included a woodworking shop so that those lessons continued. Dad made this a priority with his beloved grandchildren. He conducted science projects with Madison, built pinewood derby cars with Griffin for Cub Scouts, and designed and built a computer from scratch with Cooper.

Dad also enjoyed motor sports. He loved his Honda 4-wheeler. It was my 10th birthday present that he lovingly held onto for safe keeping and upgraded over the years. He also liked to restore and sell Honda trail bikes and would often take them camping with him and sell.

Of all of Dad's gifts and talents, the greatest was the way he loved and cared for my mother. He was steadfast and gentle, brave in the face of heartbreaking diagnoses, and ever faithful to the one he called the love of his life. Their plans for adventure in retirement were cut short by Mom's cancer diagnosis, but before passing, she made him promise that he would continue their plans to travel by RV. Dad upheld that promise and loved visiting Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. He was particularly fond of Red River, NM; Alpine, AZ and Moab, UT. Dad met many friends along his travels and kept up by email or calls with them even when he wasn't on the road. Ever the creative, Dad began making walking sticks out of the sotol plant so he could take them on his travels and gift them to the friends he would meet.

My Dad was quietly and humbly generous throughout his life, responding to the call of his giving heart. When he would notice someone struggling, he would quietly help them along. Most times I would not know he did it until someone would share how he had helped them. He assisted with educations, putting food on the table, buying coats for foster children, helping our local teachers with their passion projects in honor of my mom, and donating to research for cancer and Parkinson's. Dad did more than giving financially, he was generous with his time and counsel. He was a wonderful and non-judgmental listener. He was often the wisest person in the room with his calming nature and big heart.

Dad was a man of faith. He loved the Lord and knew this world was but a temporary stop in the span of eternity, but my what a beautiful, impactful stop he made.

With all my love and admiration,
Your Little Girl

A memorial service will be held in my dad's honor in the spring, which was his favorite time of year. In lieu of flowers, please feel free to make a donation in memory of Chris H. Menzel to the American Heart Association or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.