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Wendell Joy Dillinger
March 23, 1930 ~ December 10, 2023 (age 93) 93 Years Old
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Wendell Joy Dillinger 93 of Middletown passed away, Sunday December 10, 2023. Wendell was born in Orange, NJ on March 22, 1930 the son of Joy Franklin Dillinger and Gladys Grabow Dillinger. He lived with his parents in East Orange NJ until 1937 when his father was transferred from Bell Laboratories in New York City to Western Electric Company in Cicero Illinois. Wendell started his formal education at the Franklin School in East Orange. He was already fascinated by the streetcar in Newark and all the service vehicles with a bus line terminal near his home. Buses with trolley poles but without overhead trolley wires after layed over there. His father rented a home on Woodside Road in Riverside Illinois, this was perfect for Wendell as Chicago and West towns streetcars ran past the front door. About four years later the family moved, This time to a home about a block away from the streetcar line. Wendell attended the Riverside Grammar School and later the Riverside Brookfield High School where he graduated in 1948. While in High School, he and three friends built a two block long private one was telephone line connectivity their homes. He bought so much hardware for this project that he was hired by the hardware store, his first job. But his favorite pastime was riding the streetcars at least three of the motormen allowed him to operate the streetcar, especially on Friday evenings. He had hoped to work on the streetcar line, but this became impossible when the streetcars were replaced by buses in April 1948. Wendell decided the next best job would be with a railroad. The Riverside Station of the CB&Q was only a block away, so he applied for a job there. Mr. Dillon the agent said nothing was available, but a week or two later Mr. Dillon said the job of janitor was available. Wendell jumped at this opportunity. Part of his job was to meet the Westbound local passenger train about 5:30 am and help the train crew unload the LCL freight and Railway Express shipment onto baggage carts, within two weeks he was promoted to ticket clerk. During the next several years he worked as ticket clerk, crossing watchman, interchange clerk and station agent during summer vacation from college. Wendell attended Otterbein College where he received a BA degree in 1952. He then attended the Wharton School of finance and commerce where he received his masters degree in 1958, having written a history of the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company for his master Thesis. He was drafted into the Army in 1954 and spent two years in Texas mostly at the William Beaumont Army Hospital. After attending college and serving in the Army Wendell took a job with the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Electric railway in 1958 as Director of Research & Development. He designed a more efficient timetable and a superliner passenger tariff, but these did not save the railroad as the Chicago Transit Authority failed to replace a track connection which had been removed to build an interstate highway. He worked there for two bus companies but then accepted a job with the Chicago North Western Railway in the Finance Department. In 1968 he accepted a job as president of The Iowa Terminal Railroad which he held for two years, He then began to search for a branch line which could be converted into a short line railroad. This resulted in the purchase of the Middletown and Hummelstown branch of the Reading Company in March 1976. He and Samuel Holmes began operating the line in April 1976 as the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad the original name of the company which built the line. Wendell served the company as President, CEO and also Treasurer from that time until his death. His father was the original Vice President and his mother was the first Secretary of the Company. Frankie Wiserman operated the passenger department for several years, adding train robberies, Civil War, the Polar Express Trains, War reenactments to the schedule. She was a bookkeeper for 20 years. She and Wendell lived together for 20 years. Funeral service will be held Monday December 18, 2023 at 11:00 am in the Richardson Funeral Home LLC 29 S. Enola Dr. Enola, PA. A viewing will be held from 10:00 am until time of service at the funeral home. Burial with Military Honors will be held in Middletown Cemetery 675 Spring St. Middletown, PA.