Dr. Michael Ray Bendel-Stenzel, M.D.
Bendel-Stenzel, Michael Ray, M.D. Michael Ray Bendel-Stenzel, M.D., died September 25 when when his car was struck while in traffic on Interstate 35 near Northfield. He was 55. His wife, Ellen, and son, Linus, were passengers in the car and survived the crash. They were traveling to Iowa to visit Michael and Ellen's daughter, Lilly, and her partner, J.P. Beaty. Michael was born on January 14, 1965 in Fairmont to Kenneth and Karen (Moe) Stenzel. After graduating from Glencoe High School, he majored in athletic training and minored in music at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. He entered the University of Minnesota medical school, was inducted into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha honor society in his third year, and received his medical degree in 1992. After completing a fellowship in pediatric nephrology, he accepted a position at the U of M, where he was an assistant professor of pediatrics. In 2008, he joined Minneapolis Children's Hospital as a hospitalist, where he was known for his wide array of bow ties and his knowledge, skill and kindness to his patients and their families. He also served as Lead for Clinical Outcomes for many multicenter Quality Improvement projects through the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 1988, Michael met Ellen, a fellow first-year medical student who - clever herself - was initially irritated by her fellow student's seemingly effortless brilliance, although she soon learned to love and admire this gift. They married in 1993 and settled in Edina. Four days before his death they had bought a home in Rochester, where Ellen recently joined the Mayo Clinic as a neonatologist. Michael's greatest passions were his love for his family and his devotion to his young patients. He was also a gifted musician, equally at home with Chopin and The Sesame Street Songbook. His playing of the Charlie Brown theme song for his children, nieces and nephews prompted frenzied dancing, and he is irreplaceable as the player of carols during the annual family Christmas party. His friends and family all know of his fondness for the card game sheepshead, which he learned from the father of a high school friend, and he maintained a years-long database of statistics from games he played with his son, nephews, and brother-in-law. He was a connoisseur of Cheerios - eaten day or night, with no sugar or adulteration - and his love of golf is well-known. He and Ellen enjoyed traveling and shared many experiences overseas. Despite his many obligations and activities, he selflessly gave of his time, helping his parents, dispensing medical advice, giving computer support as the family tech nerd, and fulfilling any other need that he saw. Michael and Ellen were devoted philanthropists and supported many charitable and arts institutions, both financially and through their actions. Among the greatest beneficiaries of their generosity are the Children's Theatre Company, St. Catherine University, the Minneapolis/St. Paul medical community and MPR. Surviving, in addition to his wife, children and parents, are brother and sister-in-law John and Jody Stenzel of Oakland, Tenn., and many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. Michael's death is an irreparable loss, but the healing he brought to his patients and the love he gave to family and friends will endure. A formal celebration of Michael and his legacy will be held when Ellen has physically healed and conditions allow. Memorial contributions may be made to the Children's Theatre Company, Second Harvest Heartland, or to the charity of your choice.
Published on October 26, 2020
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