Mr. John Clifton Rentz, 95, of Asheboro, N.C., Varnville, S.C., Salfords, Surrey, England, Louisville, Ky., and Laurel, passed away peacefully on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, surrounded in love by his family, after a long life well-lived.
John was born June 15, 1926, in Savannah, Ga., the son of William Harrell Rentz and Elizabeth Miller Rentz. He grew up in his hometown of Varnville. He was very happily married to his beloved Lalla Vincent Rentz, also of Varnville, from 1947 until her death in 2018. Together they created a loving family including John Harrell Rentz (Eric Lee Hyman) of Holly Springs, N.C., and Silver Spring, Md., Fay Rentz (Cynthia Lee Sanner) of Chicago, Cynthia Rentz Falgout of Durham, N.C., Helen Rentz (Susan Margaret Fisher) of Apex N.C., and Lydia Rentz Whitley (Bryan Dees Whitley) of Greensboro, N.C.; three grandchildren, Steven Harrell Rentz (James Christopher Garzia) of Apex, Hannah Elizabeth Falgout of Durham and Mary Katherine Falgout of Washington, D.C.; and great-grandchild Gavin James Rentz of Apex.
John was predeceased by his wife, father and mother, as well as two older siblings and their spouses, William Harrell Rentz Jr. (Lucile Cornell Rentz Lott) of Waycross, Ga., and Elizabeth Rentz Rhodes (William Luther Rhodes, Jr.) of Varnville.
He graduated from Varnville High School before serving his country in the U.S. Army in Germany during World War II (39th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division). After the war, he married his sweetheart and graduated with honors from Clemson College with a degree in Electrical Engineering. During the first half of his career, he worked for the General Electric Company in Asheboro, Salfords, Surrey, England, and Louisville. He invented patented hardware and revolutionary techniques for producing safe, high-quality, reliable electric blankets. During the second half of his career, he was employed by Northern Electric Company (later Sunbeam and Oster) in Laurel, continuing his work with improving electric blanket production and focusing on small appliance quality control.
The hymn "Others," a favorite of his mother, truly expresses the essence of his life. After serving in Southern Baptist churches in Varnville, Asheboro and Laurel, he became a proud member of Our Home Universalist Unitarian Church in Ellisville. The Methodist ministry of Rev. D. L. Dykes of Louisiana also had a profound influence on his life.
John (“Johnny,” “Ole John,” “Dad,” “Grandpa,” “Papa,” “Papa Rentz,” “GGPa,” “Uncle John,” “Papa Doodle,” “JC,” or “Mr. John”) will long be remembered for his laughter and storytelling, his life-improving inventions, his intellectual curiosity and lifelong love of learning, his passion for gardening, grape vines and fig trees, his artistry expressed through sketching, painting and woodworking, his exuberance for sailing and fishing, his sage advice, his integrity and steadfast down-to-earth principles, as well as his eternal love for his sweetheart Lalla, whom he first met when she was 3 years old and he was 5.
A graveside service will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, at Varnville Cemetery. Beginning at noon, family and friends are invited to visit with the Rentz children and grandchildren at Varnville Cemetery. The family will also enjoy visitation at the cemetery after the service. Peeples-Rhoden Funeral Home of Hampton, S.C., is handling funeral arrangements. The family would be devastated if anyone became ill after attending this graveside service. For that reason, all funeral-related gatherings will be outdoors. Even though we will be outdoors, the family requests that everyone wear masks (which will be provided if needed).
Memorials may be made to Hospice of Randolph County (416 Vision Drive, Asheboro NC 27203), Varnville Cemetery Association (P.O. Box 366 Varnville SC), Our Home Universalist Unitarian Church (2134 Highway 29 North, Ellisville MS 39437), the American Lung Association, or Crossroad Retirement Community (1302 Old Cox Road, Asheboro NC 27205).
The family acknowledges Billy and Betty Page and the entire Crossroad Retirement Community team for their love and support since 2009.