By Ellen Zoe Golden Photo courtesy Lee Wenrich
On September 28, one of the founding members of modern Tamarindo passed away. Russell Wenrich, 79, died in the hospital after a long illness. He is survived by his wife of 44 years Lee, and his sons, James, Rusty, and Tony, and his daughter, Rhonda, and their spouses and children. Wenrich was born in Indiana on January 17, 1939, and moved to Florida after 4 years in the US Air Force. There he began work in construction building homes. His first trip to Costa Rica was in 1970, and ultimately he and his family moved first to Flamingo in 1981, and stayed there for 5 years before relocating to Tamarindo.
“He chose Tamarindo because he knew what he could do,” explained Lee, who noted that as a real estate developer he sold the land he owned, and made all the roads around it into concrete. He even took it upon himself for years grading the unpaved roads in other areas of the community. “He did more than I even know here.”
Wenrich was known to personally finance many locals who were in need of a start in their lives with land and homes, but without help would not be able to do so. In addition, Wenrich built some of the town’s first lodging with the Tamarindo Resort, which not only housed early visitors to Tamarindo, but also lays claim to the first landline telephone and satellite television dish in the area. Both these amenities attracted the locals to hang out in the Resort’s bar and restaurant as well as attracting tourists with accommodations.
“The Resort was the first place in town to open up late, and cater to people who wanted to party,” said Chris Spilsbury.
“Until 1990, everything in town was closed at 9 p.m. Bar Tercer Mundo was where we hung out, and Henry, the bartender there, used to throw a case of beer out the doors and roll down the gates at closing time. Russell gradually built a restaurant and an air conditioned room for bingo because Lee loved it.
The famous party scene in ’Endless Summer II’ was staged there.’ Joe Vargas remembers going to the first rock concert in Tamarindo at the Resort, presented by Wenrich. Other holdings include the Leora Pacifica Condominium, and other property in Tamarindo, Playa Cayote, San Juanillo, and Hernandez. CEPIA benefit from the construction overseen by Wenrich of the blue synthetic soccer field at the Huacas intersection.
“All his workers came for a couple of days to lay that field donated by Skullcandy,” founder Laetitia Deweer recalled. Giacomina Lidia Pirronella lamented: “The loss of Don Russell really hit me. He was a nice and kind person to me. Since I met him, he was one of my favorite people in Tamarindo.
Always gentle and polite. A real gentleman. I will miss him. I will miss not seeing him on the street in his car and waving at me. I will miss not seeing him making sure the road has been fixed properly before Christmas and before Easter”
The Wenrich family is asking, that in honor of Russell’s love for animals, and his rescue dog, Sammy, that donations be made in the name of Russell Wenrich to Cavallini Veterinarian Hospital. Call 2652-9009 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to do so.