In Memorial: Wendell Rankin

In Memorial: Wendell Rankin

Wendell Rankin, Rest in Peace Chili Head

Wendell Rankin, Rest in Peace Chili Head

Wendell Rankin, a cherished personality within the Euless, Texas community and a stalwart of the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI), passed away on February 22, 2024, leaving behind a legacy as vibrant and impactful as his art. Born on September 6, 1934, in Anson, Texas, Wendell's journey from a high school student in Anson to a respected veteran, businessman, artist, and chili aficionado encapsulates a life lived with zest, creativity, and warmth.

A Soldier Turned Sign Painter

After serving in the US Army in Germany, Wendell channeled his discipline and attention to detail into his entrepreneurial venture, Impact Sign Company. His business acumen was matched only by his creative spirit, which found its most vivid expression in his transformation of Coleman stoves into masterpieces that adorned chili cook-offs across the nation. Wendell's unique creations became a hallmark of chili competitions, infusing them with color, character, and a touch of his indomitable spirit.

The Artist Who Touched the Sky

Wendell's artistic prowess was not confined to the terrestrial; it soared to the skies when he painted Elvis Presley’s airplane, the Lisa Marie, with the iconic TCB (Taking Care of Business in a Flash) emblem. This achievement was a testament to his exceptional talent and his ability to leave a lasting impression, not just on canvas or metal, but in the hearts of those who witnessed his work.

A Pillar of the Chili Community

Wendell's contributions to the chili world were recognized by CASI on multiple occasions, celebrating his passion for chili, his artistic contributions, and his pioneering spirit. His awards included the CASI Chilihead of the Year in 1991, the CASI Poster Award in 2009, and the prestigious CASI Pioneer Award in 2017. These accolades were a reflection of his enduring impact on the chili community and his role in shaping its culture and traditions.

A Legacy of Laughter and Love

Beyond his professional and artistic achievements, Wendell was a man who loved deeply and laughed often. He never missed an opportunity to make a new friend, share a story, or lend a listening ear. Wendell's sense of humor, combined with his genuine interest in people, made him a beloved figure not only in chili circles but in every life he touched.

A Family Man at Heart

Wendell is survived by a loving family that includes his spouse, Carole Rankin; his children, Kathy Oliver and Gregg Rankin; stepchildren, and a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Each family member reflects a facet of Wendell's character, from his artistic talent and love of adventure to his compassionate spirit and zest for life.

Honoring Wendell

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested contributions be made to the CASI Scholarship Fund, a cause close to Wendell's heart. This gesture ensures that Wendell's legacy will continue to inspire and support the next generation of artists, chili enthusiasts, and community leaders.

As we remember Wendell Rankin, we celebrate not just the art he created or the competitions he enlivened, but the laughter, warmth, and boundless creativity he brought into our lives. Wendell painted his journey with bold strokes of love, humor, and passion, leaving us with a canvas rich in memories and a community forever enriched by his presence.