Fendel Family Supports Stevens Through Scholarships

 

The story of the Fendel family is one of service, engineering, and supporting Stevens. And even though John Fendel Jr. graduated from another college, he still cares about honoring his father’s legacy, and helping students, at Castle Point.

Fendel actually has three Stevens alumni in his family, including his father John Sr. ’43 and his uncles Fred ’41 and Edwin ’50, who each graduated with degrees in mechanical engineering. Their father, who served in the army during World War I, had a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

John Sr., or “Laughing Boy” as his classmates knew him, was a brother in Chi Psi and served on the staff of the Link yearbook. He commuted on the ferry from Staten Island, and he met his wife Marjorie one day on his way to Stevens. 

With World War II raging, John Sr. enlisted in the navy as soon as he graduated. He first supervised construction of battleship guns at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but he was then transferred to the Pacific, where he served as an engineering officer on a ship that landed troops on Guadalcanal and Okinawa. 

After the war, John Sr. moved his family to Berkeley, California. At the time he was working for Tidewater Oil, and later he took a job with U.S. Steel. However, the navy recalled him when the Korean War erupted in 1950, and John Sr. again saw combat landing troops at Inchon.

After Korea, John Sr. returned to U.S. Steel, where he worked for 18 years before taking on a new challenge, serving as construction director during the building of BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. BART opened in 1972 and now carries 130 million riders a year across 110 miles of track.

John Jr. was born in 1946, and right away he inherited his father’s penchant for engineering. He remembers walking through the BART tunnel under the San Francisco Bay before the train tracks were set. Though he planned to go to college, another war broke out, and yet again a Fendel went to serve.

“I enlisted in the navy—like my father—to get electronic training and went to Vietnam as an electronic tech,” John Jr. said. “I worked on the first generation of digital FM radios—some digital radios then still had tubes.”

When he returned, John Jr. attended California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo and later got a job with Honeywell, where he led the tech group that wrote all the manuals for the military and civilian departments of the company’s aerospace division.

Now retired, he enjoys traveling the world with his wife, Jeanne. He also works on cars. “I bought my red Mustang, which I still have, in 1968 with the money I saved in the service. Modifying and racing it became a hobby. Later I bought a metallic gray Shelby Mustang, which I restored, and I still have that one, too.”

John Sr. passed away in 2007, and his brothers Edwin and Fred passed away in 1999 and 2008, though Marjorie is still living in Berkeley. In his father’s honor, John Jr. established the John B. Fendel ’43 Endowed Scholarship at Stevens.

“We thought it would be fitting to establish a fund to help young engineers get an education. My father believed that Stevens contributed to his success, and we want to make sure that the scholarship students are able to benefit from everything Stevens has to provide.”

 

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