Richard Wendt devoted himself to helping children, his sons said.
"He was a natural leader. He coached baseball and advocated for kids," said his son, Mike Stephens. "He made an impact on Union Township youth."
Son Joe Wendt agreed.
"What guided his life was his love of children," he said.
Richard Wendt, 72, of Valparaiso, died Feb. 8. He was a social worker with Porter County PACT and the Juvenile Detention Center for more than 25 years. He also was the longtime baseball coach for Wheeler High School. The Wheeler High School baseball field will be renamed in his honor, his sons said.
He is survived by Reita Hodsen, whom he married Dec. 6, 1969.
Stephens said his father was good at many sports, including baseball, tennis, basketball and golf.
"He was very competitive," he said. "He'd compete at whatever you wanted to do."
Wendt was instrumental in forming youth sports leagues in Union Township, his sons said.
"The youth programs became the center of the community," Wendt said. "He always wanted to find ways to help kids and to rehabilitate kids."
Son Joe Wendt said you always knew where you stood with his father.
"He meant what he said and said what he meant," Wendt said. "If he was smiling, he really meant it."
Stephens said his father was selfless in his pursuit of helping others.
"He could connect to people from all different backgrounds. If you were there for the right reasons, you were his friend," he said. "He didn't look for or need accolades."