Professor, researcher and advocate for drycleaners
Dr. Manfred Wentz, whose career in garment care spanned six decades across two
died June 12 at Rex Healthcare in Raleigh, NC. He was 77.
Dr. Wentz was born May 6, 1939 in Germany. He
graduated from the College of Textile Chemistry and
Engineering in Hohenstein, Germany, 1959 and received
his Ph.D. in Polymer Science from North Carolina State
University in 1973.
He began his industry career as a plant manager at
C.F. Bardusch Industrial Laundry in Ettlingen, Germany
from 1959 to 1962. Following that he was manager of
the laundry research division of the Textile Research
Institute in Hohenstein, Germany from 1962 to 1965.
He relocated to the United States to join the National
Institute of Drycleaning (now the Drycleaning and
Laundry Institute) in Silver Spring, MD, where he was a
research chemist from 1965 to 1969 and then director of
research from 1972 to 1974.
He moved to the ranks of academia in 1974, first as a professor of textile
environment textile and design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison until
1985. He was the
Burlington Industries Professor of Textile Science and department chair of
Clothing and Textiles
at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro from 1985 to 1988, then professor
coordinator at the School of Agriculture and Life Science at North Carolina
State University from
1985 to 1988.
It was during his time at UNC that he conducted a study on the effects of
drycleaning on wool
fibers. The study, completed in 1987, refuted a popular notion that “excessive” drycleaning was
harmful. The study evaluated 14 different textile characteristics of wool
fabrics that had been
drycleaned repeatedly using normal commercial drycleaning processes. Drycleaning
negative effects on the properties of wool fabrics, the study concluded.
In 1988, he began a 10-year stint with R.R. Street & Co. Inc. in Naperville, IL, as vice
president for research and development and environmental affairs.
Dr. Wentz held many national and international leadership positions in the
textile industry in
addition to many professional associations. Most recently he served as executive
director of the
International Drycleaners Congress and, before his official retirement in 2009,
he was director of
Hohenstein Institutes (USA) and head of the Oeko-Tex Certification Body.
In his later years he focused on textile ecology and environmental
He was an active member of the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA)
was integral in the development of the Restricted Substances List used
He was also a stakeholder representing the garment and textile care industry at
Environmental Protection Agency and served as a delegate and expert at the
Standards Organization (ISO) meetings that develops safety standards on textile
In 2003 he received the European Research Award for Science and Technology on
Care. He was selected unanimously as the first recipient of the award in
recognition of his
“outstanding contribution to the development of solvent technology and scientific
the drycleaning industry, combined with his extraordinary engagement for
behavior of men protecting the environment all over the world.”
The award was presented by Dr. Stefan Mecheels, director and CEO of the
Institute, and EFIT President Ludwig Egelhof, on behalf of the Scientific
Committee of EFIT
during a celebration marking the institute’s 50th anniversary. Hohenstein, under the leadership
of Dr. Josef Kurz, participated in basic scientific and applied research that
led to the introduction
of today’s environmentally-friendly alternative textile care technologies.
That was not the first time that Dr. Wentz was honored for his contributions to
In 1998, he received recognition from the EPA as a stakeholder in their Design
Environment Garment and Textile Care Program and was honored by DLI with the
Award in 2001.
The DLI award recognized his work with EPA and other federal and state agencies
lifetime of research to help the industry better understand the science of
Dr. Wentz was widely published with over 100 articles in both domestic and
trade journals. He also gave over 100 presentations or keynote addresses at U.S.
international trade shows, conferences or business meetings.
In addition to Gisela, his wife of 53 years, he is survived by a daughter,
Sabina Akins of Cary,
NC; a son, Chris Wentz of Collegeville, PA; grandchildren Justin Wentz, Ellie
Wentz, and Emily
Akins; a great-granddaughter, Audrey; a brother, Paul Wentz of Bonnigheim,
Germany; a sister,
Waltraud Altmann of Bonnigheim, Germany; and many beloved nieces, nephews, and
Charles Weller, former owner of Weller’s Dry Cleaners in Silver Spring, MD, died peacefully at
his home on June 11. He was 101 years old.
He was born in Altoona, PA, and served in the US Army in Europe during World War
He started in the drycleaning business with a One Hour Martinizing store on
Wayne Avenue in
Silver Spring and later purchased a property around the corner on Fenton Street
where he built
a modern plant. The building and business continue to stand and operate today
ownership, according to Ron Herson of Herson Supply in Gaithersburg, MD.
“I had the pleasure of working with Charlie, his daughter Lisa, and his son in
law, Brian, for
many years,” Herson recalled. “I really did cry and gave him a hug the day I learned he sold
Herson said his first encounter with Weller was at age five when his mother, who
customer, took him to the shop and Weller presented him with a lollipop.
Over the years he came to know Weller not only as “King of the Counter” but also an
“His skills at specialized bleaching processes and his nifty trick of holding a
bottle of VDS with
a pinhole nozzle in one hand and his air gun held behind it in the other hand,
blowing a volatile
fog to feather out the residuals, was close to magical!” Herson said.
Herson said Weller did cleaning for presidents and one time let him try on a tux
had been worn a few days earlier at an inaugural ball.
Weller was the husband of Edith Segal Weller, father of Lois Chelec, Marc
Melnick and Lisa Weller. He had numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be made to JSSA Hospice, 200 Wood Hill Rd, Rockville,