George Wendt, Former AISC Bender-Roller Committee Member, Dies at 73

George Wendt, former president of AISC member bender-roller Chicago Metal Rolled Products and member of AISC’s Bender-Roller Committee, passed away on September 11. He was 73.

Wendt, who shared a name with his famous cousin of Cheers fame, was a legend in his own right, thanks to his prowess in the pool. Born in 1947, he started swimming competitively at age five and was a standout on the Fenwick High School (Oak Park, Ill.) and University of Minnesota swim teams, achieving All American status at the latter.

After teaching at his former high school and then at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., he eventually went to work at Chicago Metal, which was started in 1908 and has been in George’s family since 1923. George became the company’s president in 1984 and served in that capacity until 2014.

“We struggled at first, but the fear of having our grandfather’s company fail on our watch was a strong motivator to succeed,” recalled Wendt in a 2012 Modern Steel interview (see the “Word Class” People to Know article in the May 2012 issue, available in the Archives section at

“George's contribution has left a significant mark on the company and the bender-roller industry at large,” expressed Ginny Wendt, his sister, and Joe Wendt, his brother, both of whom also work for Chicago Metal. “George will be remembered as a kind, thoughtful and caring person. He will be greatly missed.”

After a 16-year hiatus from swimming beginning around 1981, he started back up again in the late 1990s and began swimming competitively in the U.S. Masters Swimming program. His events included the 400-m, 800-m, 1,500-m and 5,000-m freestyle; the 100-m and 200-m breaststroke; the 200-m backstroke; and the 400-m individual medley.

“Most swimmers get slower as they age,” he explained in 2012. “My goal is to get slower slower than the other guys.”

In addition to pool races, he also competed in every Big Shoulders event on the Chicago lakefront since it was founded in 1991. It was the 2021 edition of the event where George lost his life. According to his obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times, other swimmers found him unresponsive in the water after he completed the first third of the 3.1-mile race, and a medical team was unable to revive him.

George is survived by his wife, Anne, to whom he was married for 52 years, sons Matt and Dan, daughter Kate, and nine grandchildren.