Joe Wertz

Joe Wertz tees off during the 55th Rollison Memorial Golf Tournament at Kankakee Country Club in 2017. A community dentist for 31 years, Wertz died July 14.

KANKAKEE — Kankakee dentist Dr. Joseph A. “Joe” Wertz was a good man, said his childhood friend George “Homer” Ryan.

The 58-year-old Wertz died July 14 at the University of Chicago Hospital.

He was born July 18, 1962, in Kankakee, the son of the late Dr. Robert Arthur and Eleanor Jo (Hensley) Wertz.

Wertz was a community dentist for 31 years, following in his father’s footsteps.

“He was a good man, gone too young,” Ryan said Wednesday. “A good thing about Joe is that he was very thoughtful and heartfelt toward others.”

Ryan and Wertz grew up in the same Kankakee neighborhood in Riverview.

“We all played basketball at my house. We would go to Cobb Park to play tennis,” Ryan said.

Many childhood friends will attend Wertz’s services, Ryan said.

“This is a tribute to Joe,” Ryan said.

Wertz was a longtime member of the Kankakee Country Club. He was an avid golfer and was a two-time champion of the club’s Rollison Tournament. He was a three-time past president of the Kankakee Dental Society.

Dr. Kelly O’Connor, a Bourbonnais dentist, said Wertz had a respect for dentistry. Like Wertz, O’Connor followed his own father, Leo, into dentistry.

O’Connor’s son, Derek, recently joined him in his practice. O’Connor said Wertz was enthused by it.

Wertz was a past president for the Rotary Club, and The Salvation Army.

Wertz graduated from Bishop McNamara Catholic High School and received degrees from Southern Methodist University and Loyola University.

Jeff Bonty is a reporter for The Daily Journal. He can be reached at and 815-937-3366.