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Obituary: Wayne Nestander, 82

Wayne William Nestander, the elder son of Lutheran minister Palmer Sigurd Nestander and his wife Florence Hildur, was born June 9, 1930, in Alta, Iowa. He completed much of his grade school there until Palmer was called to serve a Manistique, Michigan congregation in 1941.
He continued his education in Manistique until Palmer was called again in 1946, this time to serve at Chicago’s Messiah Lutheran Church.
Wayne graduated from Harper High School in June 1947 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science in Business and Engineering Administration from Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology in June 1951 and January 1953, respectively.
Wayne became acquainted with his first wife, Linnea, at Messiah Lutheran Church where she served as organist. He served as church janitor, sang with the choir and rang the church bell.
Wayne and Linnea were married in June 1954 and remained so until Linnea’s death in 2002. They settled for a short time on Chicago’s southwest side before building a home in south Naperville, where Wayne had resided for more than 60 years at the time of his passing.
His home and fine woodworking were lifelong passions. He designed their home, poring over the details while riding back and forth to work with a fellow civil engineering colleague, then went on to construct much of it himself including the cabinetry, wood trim and furniture. He left behind a drawer of designs for future projects!
Wayne was lucky in love not once, but twice. He initially met his second wife, Merle, at Messiah Lutheran Church, and although they had not remained in close contact over the years, they reconnected following Linnea’s death and married in 2004.
For the past 18 years, Merle and Wayne commuted between homes in Saugatuck and Naperville, traveled extensively and enjoyed time with family and friends. Wayne became an integral part of the Saugatuck community, especially his frequent trips to the Saugatuck-Douglas library as he routinely pursued his passion for reading and movies. A cool crisp start to a day would almost never fail to elicit a comment about it being a “Michigan morning.”
Professionally, Wayne’s résumé is short. He spent five years working for Crane Co. before joining Argonne National Laboratory. Twelve years later he joined Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory when it was still mostly open prairieland and spent the remaining 25 years of his civil engineering career there until he retired in April 1994. Wayne’s contributions to the Fermilab site remain to be seen today as one drives across it.
Wayne once described himself on a résumé as having a “broad range of creative hobbies,” a significant understatement to say the least. His lifelong passions included travel and music, but throughout his life he continuously developed new skills and pursued new interests. His lifelong love of learning led him to pursue gardening, wine making, silversmithing, wood carving, leather crafting and canoe building, to name a few.
His travels prior to retirement took him and his family on weeks-long road trips throughout the United States, including Alaska, and nearly every National Park. Following retirement, he traveled to far-flung destinations including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, South Africa and more.
Wayne was also quite social. As a musically-gifted young man he played the piano and was a member of a barbershop quartet for many years. He and his first wife, Linnea, participated enthusiastically in a book club comprised of neighbors and friends for many years which typically included dinner parties aligned with the theme of the current book. In addition, they regularly hosted square dancing get-togethers in their basement as well as annual backyard picnics for neighbors and Fermilab colleagues.
Wayne was always ready to lend a tool or advice to anyone who would ask but mostly he enjoyed listening to others. Later in life Wayne became a “family ambassador” to extended family across the United States as well as in Sweden and Norway, forging lasting connections that would not exist were it not for his curiosity and interest.
Wayne followed his father Palmer, mother Florence, sister Elaine Brolander (Glen), and first wife Linnea in death on Nov. 19, 2022. He’s survived by his second wife, Merle Malmquist; children Ann Nestander (Alex) and Ben Nestander (Tracy), granddaughters Melissa and Michelle Nestander, brother David Nestander, nephew Randall Brolander (Donna) and niece, Sheryl Johnson (David) along with numerous great nieces and nephews.
The surviving extended family includes Sandra Malmquist (Steven), Susan Malmquist (Robert) and David Malmquist as well as grandchildren Karl (Katie), Erik, Emil and Emma Hanson and Jack Tribo.
Visitation: Jan. 9, 9:30-11 a.m. at Our Saviors Lutheran Church, 815 S. Washington Street, Naperville, IL 60540. Memorial service immediately following at 11 a.m. Inurnment at Naperville Cemetery will be private.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be directed to the Saugatuck-Douglas Library, 174 Center Street, Douglas, MI 49406 or Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 North Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606.

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