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Health & Medicine Remembers Ray Werntz

Health & Medicine is sadden by the passing of long-time Board Member Ray Werntz. We are honored to count Ray among our community of supporters and are deeply grateful for his many years of service to our organization. We will remember him for his decades of work helping employees across Illinois and their families improve their health status. We invite you to read more about Ray's life and work below.

Raymond B. Werntz Jr., age 72 of Wheaton, Illinois, passed away January 7, 2015 in his home, surrounded by his wife Lorna (neé Shopland) and three daughters (Carrie, Jamie and Alexandra).  Throughout his recent years as president of WellnessOptimized Inc., he passionately worked to improve and promote his co-designed HIP (the Health Improvement Plan), an employee medical benefit plan that teaches members to wisely use health resources to improve their own health status through knowledge, accountability and engagement.  As he bravely battled cancer the last 4 years of his life, he applied the knowledge he acquired as a patient to enhance HIP.  

Previously, as President of the Consumer Health Education Council (CHEC) in Washington, D.C. a program of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Ray worked to promote solutions to America’s uninsured issues.

Retiring after 32 years as Vice President, Compensation and Benefits from Whitman Corporation, a Chicago-based multinational holding company (formerly IC Railroad, IC Industries), Ray promoted, through national presentations and advocacy, a business case for employer investment in employee health and increased employee engagement in their own health.  

Ray received his BA and MA in History and Philosophy from DePaul University (Chicago) and JD from the John Marshall Law School (Chicago).  He also served on boards of private and public sector organizations established to address health care policy, delivery, quality, education, and access for low income Chicago residents, including the Center for Employee Health Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Midwest and National Business Groups on Health, and the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group.

Born in Chicago, Ray was the beloved husband of 30 years of Lorna Shopland Werntz and was devoted to his daughters, Carrie (Brian) Birkholz, Jamie (David) Howe and Alexandra (Sean Johnson) Werntz. He was the son of the late Eloise and Raymond B. Werntz and proud grandfather of Sean and Kaelen Birkholz, and Kristi and Nicole Howe.  He is survived by his brothers Frederic (Lois) Jones, Michael Werntz and Gary (Susan) Werntz; as well as nieces and nephews.