As Dr. Myron Wentz ’63 reflects upon important moments that inspired his leadership in science, entrepreneurship and philanthropy, there’s a common theme: “All my major decisions in life have been in response to ‘This Should Not Be.’”
At age 14, he knew he was destined to become a servant-leader. “I knew it would involve using my God-given talents to make people’s lives better
and the vehicle would be medicine.” His father’s death from heart disease motivated Wentz to take all the high school science classes he could in Napoleon, ND, and he followed several family members to North Central College. While Wentz loved music, he answered his calling to pursue medicine. “I really had a sense that my life was not my own, that I was being directed to follow a certain path.”
At North Central, Wentz was encouraged to become a leader of the campus activities board. The Reverend George St. Angelo ’43 pulled him into campus ministry efforts to bring the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. to campus. Taking private voice lessons, he prepared a solo that he never had to sing on stage. “I felt like I’d been given a life sentence reprieve,” he says with a laugh.
With a degree in biology, he worked as a director of infectious diseases/ immunology. “From that experience I knew I’d become a cell biologist.” He pursued his doctorate in microbiology at the University of Utah, and in Salt Lake City, founded Gull Laboratories. Wentz answered the need for better medical tests by developing and marketing diagnostic test kits, such as the first test for the diagnosis of infection with the Epstein- Barr virus. When Wentz sold the firm 20 years later, it had reached $20 million in annual sales and 90 employees.
His research led to understanding the key nutrients necessary for the function of healthy cells and how they degenerate due to environmental damage. “I came to realize that preserving health and restoring healthy cell function is related to nutrition.” He experienced his own health problems and he read the label of a supplement he was taking. “I thought, ‘This is not going to help me get well.’”
So Wentz focused on developing nutritional products that would be better assimilated into the body, which today, represent the product line of USANA Health Sciences. Now in its 16th year, the company is approaching a half billion dollars in sales. In 1998, Wentz also founded Sanoviv Medical Institute, a health and wellness center in Mexico that blends current medicine with holistic healing.
Wentz has also assumed a leadership role in children’s health, traveling with the Children’s Hunger Fund to address nutrition deficiencies and establish a medical center in Uganda. He selected and purchased the diagnostic equipment and a second center will soon serve children in Cambodia.
A stirring visit to North Central’s campus in 2003—his first in several decades—re-ignited his memories of the stellar music program in the 1960s. “I was so impressed by the caliber of the students and the faculty, but I saw the inadequacies of the facilities,” he says.
In another response to “This Should Not Be,” his $10 million donation inspired the campaign to construct the Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center, a testimonial to his love of music and enduring affection for his alma mater.
North Central Now Annual Report 2008