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Lester L. Werntz Scholarship


     This scholarship was established by Mariann Dana Younger in honor of Lester L. Werntz, best known as Les Werntz in Mt. Pulaski, Illinois. 

     Mr. Werntz, as he was known to his students, was a teacher who had great influence on Mariann and encouraged her love for educating and mentoring children. Mariann has continued to advocate for youth through her tutoring of young mothers and students in need of extra help, participating as guardian ad litem, and as an advocate of children’s literature. Mariann’s story demonstrates just how much teachers can help shape values and attitudes; it also demonstrates a remarkable way in which a student can say “thank you” to an influential teacher.

     Les was born in Freeport, Illinois on November 13, 1916. After graduating from Freeport High School he had no money so he worked for two years before enrolling at Illinois Wesleyan College in 1937, graduating in 1941.  His first teaching job was in Mt Pulaski as director of all music – both instrumental and vocal; his first 11-month contract afforded him a salary of $1400.  Les enlisted in World War I after teaching for one year. 

     He served in the 62nd Army Ground Forces Banc for four years, and then returned to Mt Pulaski to teach until 1956 when he was offered a job as assistant to his old band teacher in Freeport. He and his wife Audrey spent many sleepless nights trying to make the decision to leave Mt. Pulaski. Returning to his home town to work with his early school mentor meant a lot to him, so his decision was made to move. Les died April 15, 2005 in Newport where his wife Audrey still lives in the home they built together when they returned to Freeport.

WerntzApplication.pdf   click here for the application

These Band Instructors helped place
Mt. Pulaski Music on the Illinois Map

  • Les instructed from 1941 to 1956
    [with time out for WWII duty]

    Claus instructed from the early 60's
    on into the late 80's

  • Claus was a Music educator at Mt. Pulaski School District for 36 years and was the Choir Director at the First United Methodist Church in Mt. Pulaski for many years.