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Opinion >  Column

Then and Now: Wellesley and Division

The 1963 photo shows the area where Chud Wendle proposed to move his Ford car dealership near the corner of Wellesley Avenue and North Division Street.

Chud W. Wendle, born in Danville, Illinois, moved with his family to Sandpoint, Idaho in 1917. He graduated from Sandpoint High School in 1927, and from the University of Idaho in 1931. His first business venture, during college, was carbonating punch for fraternity and sorority parties at Idaho and Washington State. “I think it was the first time anybody got the idea of carbonating punch,” he said in 1994.

According to his father Floyd, the name Chud came from a loss during a card game to Charles “Chud” Taft, the brother of President William Howard Taft. The lost hand meant that Floyd had to give the name to his first-born son.

After college, he bounced around until he got a job at Ford in Seattle during the Great Depression. The war slowed auto production, and Wendle worked for Boeing for a short time.

In 1943, Wendle partnered with Wayne Stoddard and opened Stoddard-Wendle Motors at Second and Jefferson. He secured the Ford dealership during the war, though Ford was only producing military equipment, so the business focused on parts and service. Wendle bought out Stoddard in 1958, and the name changed to Wendle Fordtown in 1962.

Wendle’s new dealership would be built behind the Standard station of W.J. Wonsetler, Olson’s Richfield station and Northtown Conoco. Eventually, the business would own the entire block and build a multilevel building.

Wendle’s son, Chud R. “Dick” Wendle, entered the business in the 1960s. Dick Wendle’s children, Chud and Kristin, would enter management after college in the 1990s.

The company added the Datsun/Nissan line in the early 1980s and other brands over the years.

The senior Wendle died in 2003.

In 2007, the Wendles announced the Northtown car lot would close and become a retail development called Northtown Square. The dealership consolidated at the showroom at the Division Y, built in 1995.

The younger Chud Wendle stepped away from the business, served as district director for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and later became executive director of the Hutton Settlement children’s home in 2016. Kristin Wendle Goff and her husband, Shayne, manage the dealership.

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