George Stanley Rentz

George “Stanley” Rentz, a former McLennan County Judge and long-time defense attorney, died on Sunday from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. The Waco resident was 83.

Rentz was born on a kitchen table in 1938 in the China Spring area of McLennan County, to dairy farmers Albert Ward Rentz and Sarah “Catherine” Boyd Rentz. He served as county judge between 1982 and 1986 and then returned to private practice, and also worked as a municipal court judge for Hewitt and Bellmead.

Rentz often defended the underprivileged, sometimes taking barter services such as house painting or old furniture as payment instead of cash.

“I think Stanley did more pro bono work than any lawyer in Waco,” said lifelong friend Robert Clemons. “He never turned away a friend in need and he had so many friends.”

He was the court-appointed defense attorney for Graeme Craddock, one of nine Davidians who survived the 51-day standoff against federal authorities in 1993 and the ensuing fire that engulfed Mount Carmel complex and killed 75 people. Rentz was the only Waco attorney who kept with the case until well after it reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the sentences handed out to many of the Davidians were inappropriately harsh. The sentence of Craddock, an electrical engineer from Australia, was one of several that was ultimately reduced. Rentz continued to visit Craddock until he was released to Australia in 2006.

In a profile of Rentz around the federal Davidian trial, the Waco Tribune-Herald described him as a mild-mannered lawyer with a low voice, hint of a soft drawl, and a “no-frills style of cross examination.” Rentz’s patient and steady ways were his trademarks throughout his life.

He grew up with his older brother and sister, Ward and Camelia, and younger twin sisters, Brenda and Linda, on a dairy farm along “Steinbeck Bend” on the Brazos river. They lived on 250 acres bought through a federal government-sponsored project to help bring families out of the Great Depression. He loved growing up along the rolling pastures, where he would later return to live, but farming was not for him.

Although he had early success winning a trip to Ohio for a steer he groomed in a 4-H club competition  — glory that he would later retell often — he did not fully appreciate 4 a.m. alarms for milking cows.

His siblings recounted how he preferred throwing baseballs or building telescopes with his brother to bailing hay. When his dad went looking for help, “Stanley would be out practicing his pitch for baseball and Ward would be reading a book none of us could understand, much to the chagrin of my dad,” said his sister Brenda. “When Stanley could do it, he would trick me into catching for him, which I hated because I never knew if he was going to be on target.”

After graduating from University High School in 1956, he attended Wharton County Junior College on a football scholarship and then graduated from the University of North Texas with an economics degree. He returned to Waco, teaching math and science and coaching football at Bruceville-Eddy High School.

He later attended Baylor Law School, where he met the love of his life, Nancy Lee Davis ,who was studying education at Baylor. They married in 1966 and he graduated from law school the following year.

The two shared a passion for all things Baylor and often wore their green and gold at football, basketball and softball games and even joined the school’s “most exclusive” Fano poetry club related to the Armstrong Browning Library. Rentz especially loved reading historical nonfiction and taking long road and camping trips with his wife and two daughters Rebecca and Catherine. He preferred to take the longer “the scenic routes” along country roads to visit historical markers and old courthouses.

 “Dad loved riding the back roads of Waco up until his final days,” said his daughter Rebecca Rentz. “Earlier you had be prepared for anything. One day he asked me to go to the ‘gas station’ with him and we ended up at the Shreveport, LA, casino.”

 Rentz established a private law practice in downtown Waco after law school that he kept until retiring in 2015 except for the four years he served as county judge. He represented many school districts in the county, including Midway ISD, where his daughters attended school, and also did estate work.

Rentz had a 50-year-long regular Gin card game with Waco friends, and he also ran religiously with a group of downtown lawyers and businesspeople. He eventually ran his first marathon at the age of 50.  His wide network meant he rarely went anywhere in Waco without recognition.

“We never dined in a restaurant that someone, often several, stopped to speak to Stanley,” Clemons said. Clyde Martin, one of Rentz’s former running partners and the then President of The First National of Central Texas, described Rentz as a “sincere person” who is so down-to-earth he thinks nothing of wearing old, torn shorts and shirts to jog in, according to the 1994 newspaper profile of Rentz.

He was not known for his fashion sense, and usually enlisted help from a neighbor to help buy his wife Christmas presents. One year he decided to do it on his own. It did not go well.

“He bought mom particularly ugly blue jean overalls and a hot pink T-shirt that looked like they came from a farm supply store,” said daughter Catherine Rentz. “She was an English teacher, not a farmer. Sadly, he did not know why we were all laughing.”

He had a dry and sardonic sense of humor, though sometimes not initially appreciated. When he was around twenty, he sat in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve with his rifle. He told his young niece that he was waiting for Santa Claus. His sisters and mother were yelling at him to stop. “I was traumatized for life,” said Cheryl Foster, his niece who has since learned to laugh about it. When friends of his rebellious daughter, Catherine, came to sneak her out of the house one Friday night, her prescient father sat waiting calmly on the backyard deck sipping his coffee, and softly asked her friends who were then knocking on her window, “Can I help you?”

Catherine discovered her dad developed creative ways of looking after his daughters without being seen, but said his worries were his own fault; she learned early on from him that it’s healthy to question authority and to have independent thought.

Reading newspapers, learning about the world and “always putting yourself in the other person’s shoes” were lessons they absorbed. Doctors told the family that Rentz’s deep engagement in life likely delayed the worst ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Rentz retired from his law practice in 2015 as signs of dementia set in. He still enjoyed occasional trips with good friends and family. “He was truly a great man and we were blessed to be able to call him best friend,” said Sandi and Tom Wicker, who often traveled with Stanley and Nan.

He maintained his kind spirit throughout his sickness, frequently apologizing for his memory issues. Even though he sometimes didn’t know where he was, he often repeated how thankful he was for his good life.

He and his wife joined Alzheimer’s studies, shared stories of their struggles with local news outlets, and agreed to donate his brain to research in an effort to help others.

In addition to his wife of 55 years, he is survived by his two daughters, Rebecca Rentz of Houston, Texas, and Catherine Rentz of Maryland; one sister, Brenda Golubski of Waco, Texas; and four grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. January 29 at DaySpring Baptist Church 7900 Renewal Way, Waco, TX, 76712.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the North Central Texas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Place of Service: ,

Print Obituary & Condolences Print Obituary & Condolences

Condolence Messages

  1. Dorothy (Lindsey) Scott

    My sincere condolences to Nan and all the family.
    Since I was a part of “old Bosqueville”, I have known Stanley for 75+ years. He was always well liked and a friend to everyone. He never changed through the years and will be missed by many.

  2. Stanley Rentz was a good lawyer, good family person and a great man. His demeanor in dealing with me and my elderly Uncle, my wife’s parents was stellar and so helpful in their estate planning. In fact, he played baseball with my father in law as young men, and later in adult softball teams. I appreciate a life well lived, and your life was definitely well lived Mr Rentz. Love and prayers to Nan and family

  3. Henry and Elrita Parsley

    Nan we are Janie’s sister and brother in law, Elrita and Henry Parsley. I loved the tribute that was written in his obit. By the love that the obituary was written with, everyone knew that Stanley was an amazing loving person. Our love and sincere comforting prayers are with you through this sad time.

  4. Patricia Golson Dixon

    My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Rentz family.
    In the 1970’s Mr. Rentz was my attorney doing pro bono work for me during a difficult period in my life. He was a great help to me and I’m sure many others.
    I know he will be greatly missed.

  5. Mr. Rentz was one of my mentors in my early days of the practice of law. A true quiet giant of a man — and one of the last of the “gentlemen” attorney’s in McLennan County.

  6. He was a true gentleman lawyer and I am glad to have known him.

  7. I always thought of my Uncle Stanley as a gentle giant – not just because of his stature, but his huge heart. Summer stats with him and Aunt Nan were the best. So many happy memories that I will carry with me forever.

    Love and prayers for you Aunt Nan,
    Rebecca and Catherine!

  8. I first met Stanley through our men’s Bible study and DaySpring Baptist church. Because of his thoughtful and calm nature, I loved to talk to him and ask questions. Stan had to drop out of the Bible study group, but he could still (until Covid) be found in the Narthex of our church, patiently waiting and smiling graciously at anyone who said hello to him. He was, indeed, a giant of a man.

  9. Connie Balch Palmer

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. This great man will be missed by many. My Daddy, Harold Balch, was waiting to great his dear friend in Heaven.

  10. I am very sorry to hear about Stanley’s death. I remember the many football and basketball games he officiated for our China Spring games led by our coach Robert Clemons. I also spoke with Stanley at one of our crossings at our doctor’s appointments. He was such a nice man!

  11. Jennifer Fadal Weaver

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Nan, Cathy, and Rebecca. Prayers for your family during this time.

  12. Ann and Harold Cunningham

    We love Stan and cherish memories of friendship.
    Love you.

  13. Donna Bridger Hogan

    So very sorry for your loss. Mr. Rentz was my first male teacher, math in the 8th grade. He was very different , but very memorable. I have never forgot him thru the years. Again sorry for your loss.


  15. Nan, Rebecca, and Catherine,
    Please accept our heartfelt condolences with Stanley’s passing.
    We believe there will always be another blank page to fill in the memory book but each of you has a complete book to review – with smiles.
    Although I moved away after Baylor, I always enjoyed the time I spent with “The Rentz’.” You had to be at the top of your game as the ladies were quick-witted and although Stanley was usually the quieter one, there was a fierce twinkle in his eye. He knew much more than he let on which always made me smile.
    Sad for the day but by faith we know he is catching up with the family who departed before him. Please enjoy reflecting upon the investments he made in each of you!
    Lee, Myra, Colin, and Madeline Sharp.

  16. Sending so much love and admiration to you the family. You are loved and appreciated by us. We are forever grateful for this friendship and the memories we shared. ❤️❤️❤️

  17. James E Tolbert

    My Mentor-friend , & yes my cousin, I believe his great grandmother was a Talbert! He was my coach, math teacher @ Bruceville-Eddy 4 years! An easy going gentleman in private as well as in his profession as an attorney! He helped me many times as an attorney! Rarely asking for remuneration! Played gin with him many times in my visits to his office! No matter where I saw him, since he was from the China Spring area, it bothered him as he recalled when I was a Junior quarterback on our football team. Time was running out & we were behind 8 to 6. We were on china spring 5 yard line & had been consistently moving the ball with the belly series option plays. He called a time out & told me to run the QUICK PITCH to the left halfback. We did & he was tackled just short of the GOAL line! & we lost the game! He regretted for 58 years calling that play over my suggestion of running the belly series! I do not know beside losing to his so to say hometown area why it bothered him so much! I’ve known him for 61 years. God is surely rejoicing with his presence now! Until we meet again exceptional friend! Good times I have stored in memory!! Family it is not the END, Only the BEGINNING! Grieve as love is painful as well as joyful! James E. Tolbert

  18. Such a sad loss, but knowing that he is with his Heavenly Father does bring peace of mind!
    Prayers for your family to continue to remember the many memories of years gone by with peace and joy in your heart! Jan &Lynn Roberson

  19. Bobby & Paula Strickland

    Every person hopes to leave a legacy that relates who they aspire reflects their character will be viewed by others as a “Person after God’s own heart!” In my opinion, Stanley was an example of that kind of person. I’ve known him most of my life and trusted him with as a friend as well as our family attorney handling my family’s legal matters trusting he would handle each efficiently leaving no stone left unturned. When it came down to it, I always looked to Stanley as someone who “Walked softly but carried a big stick” which is a proverbial description I use to illustrate my meaning of Stanley. He was tall drink of water, and always such a kind soul leaving anyone who came within his influence with a lifelong Christ following friend! I know that he shall be missed by many because he was as I mentioned before, a man after God’s own heart who lived and served for God’s glory during his lifetime helping Waco grow and prosper in helping those who needed it as well as the many, he and Nan were friends with. I pray for God’s blessing and comfort to the family for their loss. You are always in our most heartfelt prayers!

  20. Nan and Stanley were the first friends I made when my husband and I moved to Waco in 1967 for my husband to attend Baylor Law School. My mother-in-law taught school with Nan and thought we would hit it off. We did. Nan is one of the dearest friends I’ve had all these years. Stanley Was always so very kind and thoughtful. So dear to us and many others we all knew. Stanley was a stable & calming influence for me. I remember how much i enjoyed attending his 75th birthday party. Stanley also did some pro bono work for me. It’s hard to imagine Waco without Stanley. I’m so grateful I got to spend an afternoon with Nan and Stanley last spring. My heart goes out to Nan, Rebecca and Catherine. You have my prayers. RIP Stanley. I’ll always remember you.

  21. Christine Schroeder-Morren

    I know Stanley touched so many lives in such a positive way. Nan and Stanley both maintained such positive attitudes regardless of circumstances, always being an inspiring example to those around them. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I was able to spend with Stanley and cherish our conversations. I will always have fond memories of Stan. I continue to lift up you, Nan and your family up in prayers for peace.

  22. Tommie Aaron and Joe Aaron

    Condolences on Mr. Stanley Rentz’s passing.
    He helped my dad and me when my mom and brother died. He was always so patience and caring.. I will always remember him helping my dad and I during such a difficult time. Prayers

Leave Your Condolence