Shirlee Wenzel

Obituary of Shirlee Wenzel

Entrepreneur Shirlee Wenzel of Washington Crossing, PA passed away on August 7, 2016. She was 92. Born in Easton, PA to Morris and Frances (Kaplan) Pinskey, she was the youngest of 11 siblings. Shirlee was the valedictorian of Easton High School Class of 1941, and attended the University of Pittsburgh on a scholarship award. In 1943, Shirlee met the love of her of her life, John Anthony “Jack” Wenzel, at Lafayette College and they were married while he was in the Navy stationed in Jacksonville, FL. They enjoyed life together in Hicksville, Syosset, and Cold Spring Harbor, NY, before moving to Washington Crossing, PA in 1964. In her early years, Shirlee taught sewing and French cooking in her home, and organized bus trips to New York City. Her professional career began with her position as Vice President for Public Relations for Eastern States Properties, including the five S.P. Dunham’s stores, where Shirlee was responsible for promotions, publicity and public relations. She later became Public Relations Director for John Wanamaker suburban stores. In 1976, Shirlee broke the glass ceiling in the advertising business, starting her own company- Wenzel & Company, an advertising, marketing and public relations firm in Trenton, NJ, which moved to Pennington, NJ in 1980. It was the only woman-owned advertising agency in the State of New Jersey at that time. Shirlee’s son Don joined the agency in 1977 as her partner and worked with her until her retirement in 2010. Wenzel & Company flourished under hirlee’s leadership. Her unwavering self-confidence, hard-work ethic, and creativity earned the company many awards and accolades. The agency worked with over 600 clients and won more than 800 industry awards, including many national and “Best in Show” honors for work during its 34-year history. Clients included Cenlar, St. Francis Medical Center, The Nassau Inn of Princeton, Palmer Square, the Hyatt Regency of Princeton, GE Astro Space, IBM, the NJ Turnpike Authority, E-ZPass, Lockheed Martin, ETS, McGraw-Hill and Dow Jones. Wenzel was awarded State contracts with the NJ Departments of Agriculture, Community Affairs, Education, Health, Labor, State, Transportation, and Treasury. Shirlee received many awards and honors. She was inducted into the NJ Ad Club’s Advertising Hall of Fame in 1991, was named the Business Woman of the Year in 1986 by the NJ Association of Women Business Owners, received the Woman of Achievement Award from the NJ March of Dimes, was named Advertising Agency Executive of the Year in 1992 by the Business Journal of NJ and received the Crystal Prism Award in 1995 from the American Advertising Federation. Shirlee was a founding member of the Heart of Trenton, a founding organizer of Trenton Heritage Days and an original sponsor of the Trenton Downtown Association. She was a co-founder and former President of the NJ Communications Advertising and Marketing Association, and served as President of the North American Public Relations Network. Wenzel & Company was a member of many professional organizations including the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the North American Advertising Agency Network, and the Mercer and Princeton Chambers of Commerce. Also a member of the Public Relations Society of America, Shirlee earned the Accreditation in Public Relations credential (APR) and was a member of the Counselors Academy. Shirlee was a frequent guest speaker and author of numerous articles on marketing. She served on the Boards of many charitable organizations, and Wenzel & Company regularly provided pro bono work to those charities. Shirlee served as the Honorary Chairman of the Board for both the Association for the Advancement of Mental Health and the Mercer County Diabetes Association. Shirlee was a world traveler, avid reader, gardener, and gourmet cook. She offered sage advice to those who asked, and taught the importance of hard work and tenacity. Shirlee loved animals, had many beloved pets, and supported animal welfare organizations. She was pre-deceased by her husband, her daughter Anne, and her 10 siblings; brothers Herman Pinskey, Abraham Pinskey and Jacob Pinskey; and sisters Estelle Lehman, Dorothy Feingold, Bertha Hillman, Minette Young, Lillian Campbell, Gertrude Zowarski, and Julia Jackson. Shirlee was a devoted mother and proud grandmother. She is survived by her son Donald Wenzel, his wife Lee Anne, and twin grandchildren, Cameron and Devon, of Newtown, PA; and many nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Save the Chimps at www.savethechimps.org. Funeral services will be private. Family and friends are invited to a gathering to celebrate Shirlee’s life on August 21. Please contact the family for details. Condolences and memories may be shared with her family at the funeral home website below. FitzGerald-Sommer Funeral Home www.fitzgeraldsommerfuneralhome.com
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