ROCHESTER - A former chair of the Strafford County Republican Committee was remembered over the weekend as a strong voice for the pro-life movement and a tireless champion for GOP candidates and causes.
Danford J. Wensley, 70, of Rochester, who went by "Dan," died a week ago today at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital.
Current Strafford County GOP chair Phyllis Woods said Wensley, a lifelong diabetic, had suffered from heart disease in the past. His immediate cause of death was not released.
Woods said Wensley knew stem cell research involving embryonic tissue could have aided him in his fight against the scourge of diabetes, but he always insisted he would have none of it "at the expense of the unborn."
Ironically, Wensley's death occurred during the current furor over New York's and Virginia's push toward legalization of late term abortion up to and including the day of birth.
Wensley graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover, received his Juris Doctor from the Boston University School of Law in 1973 and was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar that same year, according to his obituary.
In 1974 he moved to Rochester to practice law at Michael and Wallace, which eventually became Wensley and Jones and served as legal counsel for the City of Rochester for 29 years.
Woods said Wensley's passion for the GOP - even under dire circumstances - surfaced for her around 2000 when he was committee chair.
"He was a workaholic," Woods said on Sunday. "When he was chair around 2000, I was working with the board. At the time he'd had a heart incident and was at Wentworth Douglass Hospital. He asked me to come to the hospital, and when I got there he was in bed with his laptop. He wanted to work with me on an ad we were working on to go into the paper."
Wensley also stayed politically active locally, working at Rochester polls on Election Day over the years.
"He was very passionate about getting people to the polls and fighting voter fraud," Woods added. He also took special interest in finding campaign offices, what he called "victory offices."
Former SCRC chair Bill O'Connor added that Wensley will be remembered as a truly "nice guy" and a strong pro-life advocate.
Wensley also dedicated himself the the youth of Rochester, coaching midget football, as well as youth baseball from Instructional League through American Legion, according to his obit.
He was an incorporator of the Roger Allen Recreation Association and served as Secretary until his death. His commitment to youth sports in the city was recognized in 2013 with his induction into the Rochester Sports Hall of Fame as a Contributor.
He also served on the Board of Directors of the Rochester Child Care Center for decades, determined to make affordable child care available to struggling families.
Among survivors are his wife of 49 years, Natalie (Richard) Wensley; and his son Aaron Wensley and wife, Elizabeth, of Dover.
There were no immediate services planned, according to his obituary, which can be viewed in full in The Rochester Voice Obituaries section.