People come in and out of our lives. Some stay a while, others only for a moment. Some have little or no impact at all while there are those that score very high on how we remember them. These are the people that make an impression that sticks.
Last week our community lost one of those people that impacted so many lives. Wesley G. Fender was many things to many people. He was a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, farmer, landlord, and a colleague of many over the years at Classic Real Estate. But to me, he was my friend.
Though my knowledge of him has been most of my life, I never really knew him until I started at Classic Real Estate about 16 years ago. Not one memory comes to mind of him ever saying anything bad about anyone. He did; however, have plenty to say about his views politically. You always knew where he stood on the current issues.
Wesley always bragged that he had never had a job. How would that ever work, not to have a job? He would never say the reason, but I knew it. He just had a natural sense about him when making decisions. When you needed strong financial advice, he was the go-to guy in our office. He had no college degree, no long title, he didn’t even have a smartphone or a computer. He had done it his way for years and was very successful.
The internet and cell phone era had no place in his life. There were those times, with most everything online, that he needed to join the internet era. He needed a go-to guy for that. He chose me. He had no idea how that worked and did not care. He purchased so many properties over the years and either bought them at an auction or faxed the offer to the listing agent. Yes, I did say he faxed it. It was kind of funny really. He would ask me to look something up and he would say he had, or did not have, the .com address.
The first time I saw him was at a junior high track meet of mine in Washington Court House. It was around 1975 and best I remember he was in real estate then as well. He and Kelley Ferguson came to watch Kelley’s son Rod run his long-distance race. Wesley got so excited for Rod that on Rod’s last lap Wesley followed him the entire lap on the inside of the track cheering him on. I remember thinking at the time two very important things: one, I am sure that guy did not come to watch me; and two, he had the largest neck on anyone I have ever seen in my life.
By the time I came to Classic most of Wes Fender’s hay days in real estate had passed. He would still buy some rental houses from time to time, but the hard-working agent had gone on to bigger and better things. He spent most of his time working at his farm in New Market. He cleaned out more miles of fence rows than any man alive and he enjoyed every moment being there to the fullest.
His last few years would not have been enjoyable to anyone. He was in and out of hospitals and the nursing home and struggled while taking each breath. I did not hear him ever complain or even say much about it. He just dealt with it the best he could. He was also the guy that never gave up on anything.
There are several stories I think of when I think of Wes. But more important than the funny stories, here is what I remember him for more than anything: Wes was a man that made me feel better about my life just by knowing him. He was always ready to help. He helped me out several times when I needed it. He also helped me by his example in how he conducted himself.
He was not a man without mistakes in his life. Like most of us, he made many and he owned them all. He learned and grew from each one, which is a very powerful lesson for us all.
To quote the great Forest Gump: “Death is a part of life.” That is very true. Thing is, I will still miss my friend.
Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.