Thursday, June 23, 2016

Running for Wendy

Wendy and I were fortunate to have many great friends. Two of those are our "Round the World Sailors" Alison & Randall Stocker. They are presently on a hiatus from their sailing adventures and touring The States in their Prius. Alison is in secret a great writer. Those of us who read her blog share their adventures. Recently Alison posted a tribute to Wendy and with her permission I am posting it to the blog.

The Photo shows Our late, dear friend Wendy and Alison passing the Washington State Capitol in Olympia as she finishes a half-marathon run wearing Wendy's “suck it up, cupcake!” tee-shirt.

This blog entry is in memory of our dear friend Wendy who died from breast cancer on June 8th, 2016. Wendy and Michael have appeared many times in this blog so even if you did not know them directly, you have seen their pictures here. I brazenly stole this photograph of Wendy from the excellent obituary on her own blog because it so perfectly captures her beauty. Many lovely things have been written on her blog, both in the text and in the comments. If you did know her and would like to join the celebration of her life in Windermere (near Orlando) on July 9th (which I plan to attend), the blog would be the place to find the relevant details.

I will not write much about Wendy here because there is so much good information and heartfelt emotion captured on her blog's recent pages. However, Randall and I consider ourselves truly fortunate to have been able to see or stay with Wendy and Michael on several occasions since our return to Florida in January. We had both known Wendy through professional meetings since the late 1980s and in addition to being a wonderfully warm and loyal friend, she had treated us both to amazing experiences at Disney World (the highlights perhaps being diving in the Epcot Center's Living Seas for me and a guided-tour of the Animal Kingdom for Randall and two grieving friends).

She was initially treated for breast cancer around the time we set sail in 2008 and it looked as though she had made a full recovery until tumors were found in her bones in December 2012. Heroic medical efforts and the most incredibly positive attitudes from Wendy and Michael carried her through another three and a half years of productive and joyful life but, sadly, the disease was ultimately relentless. She will be greatly missed by us all but most especially by her devoted, beloved husband Michael and her close and supportive family.

Now, you may wonder why I have combined our modest blog-memorial to Wendy with a picture of me running. Well, since I realized in January that our stay on land was going to be extended, I have resumed running as a form of exercise. Pounding along every street in the neighborhoods around where we stayed in Gainesville and San Jose, I was gradually increasing the lengths of my runs until it occurred to me that I needed a more significant goal.

So this Sunday morning (Happy Father's Day), with Randall kindly driving the "support-Prius", I ran my first half-marathon distance, along the measured course of the official Olympia Marathon and Half-Marathon (held in May). It was a beautiful day so conditions were perfect and I completed the 13.1 miles or 21.1 km (length of the shortest possible route on the course so I probably actually covered a bit more) in 2 hours 10 minutes 50 seconds. Compared to the 2016 results in Olympia, I would have placed 18 out of 50 in the 50 - 54 year-old class for women. Not bad for a first time and with no competitors.

How is this relevant to Wendy, you may ask. Well, during the period of recovery from her initial cancer treatments, Wendy became a keen triathlete, completing more than 20 events. So while I obviously have much work to do on my swimming and cycling to begin to match her athletic accomplishments, I did decide to dedicate this novice half-marathon effort to Wendy and Michael. There may not have been any competitors, official timers, or audience with which to share my memorial gesture, but I was wearing a shirt that Wendy and Michael gave me when I visited them in early 2013. It was one of a limited-set of tee-shirts made by her family, proudly displaying the catch-phrase that Wendy used when she had to steel herself to cope with another dose of radiation or chemotherapy. Pounding along a nearly deserted, neighborhood-road at 9 am on a sunny Sunday morning bears no comparison to what Wendy tolerated, but during miles 12 and 13 it felt really good to imagine hearing her say loud and clear,"Suck It Up,Cupcake!".

Alison and Randall's sailboat, Tregoning, is currently in Whangarei Town Basin Marina, Whangarei, New Zealand but they are in Olympia, WA. Visit her excellent blog at

Love you, Michael

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Planning for Wendy's July 9th Celebration of Life

We are continuing to move forward with the planning for Wendy's Celebration.
The Pines at Windermere, 3409 Maguire Rd, is a great venue.
We can dodge the weather and enjoy a great barbeque meal in the 7.840 square foot air conditioned building. There is also a sand volleyball court, beach with swimming area, and a horseshoe pit. The program will run from 2pm until 7pm with the structured part of the event running from 2 til 5. At this time the tentative schedule includes: A welcome by Wendy's dad and myself, a period of prayer and "memories sharing" by friends and family, and of course that great barbeque meal, including beef tenderloin, chicken, pulled pork, and shrimp along with sides of beans, slaw, a vegetable medley, pasta salad and much more (No worries I'm not cooking). We are also working to have "tasting tables" featuring treats from Africa and Asia as part of remembering Wendy's friends and adventures in distant lands. Throughout it all we will have looping slideshows and videos of Wendy celebrating life.
Please dress casually! It is summer in Florida. It may be necessary to "Baptize" anyone wearing a coat/tie or dress appearing to be too formal. More to come. God Bless! Michael

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Wendy's Obituary

Wendy's Obituary as it appeared in the Orlando Sentinel, West Orange Times, and Woodlawn Memorial website.
"Wendy May Andrew passed away on June 8, 2016, from breast cancer. She was 54. Born in Anaheim, CA, she moved as a child to Central Florida where she grew to love its natural beauty and habitat. A 1980 graduate of West Orange HS, Wendy went on to the University of Florida where she earned a BS in Forest Resources and Conservation and an MS in Agronomy. She began her professional life in 1985, as a Staff Assistant on the Environment to Senator Lawton Chiles. In 1986, she became one of the first women employed as an Aquatic Plant Manager for the Southwest Florida Water Management District. She launched a 24 year career with Walt Disney World in 1992. As Horticulture Manager for Disney’s Animal Kingdom since 2000, Wendy lived her professional dream. Along the way she met the love of her life, Michael Andrew, while engaged as a diver at EPCOT’s Living Seas Pavilion. She took her passion for the natural world beyond her professional duties by consulting on environmental projects within Florida and around the world, including Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, Mexico, Cambodia, and Thailand. She served on the Florida Department of Agriculture Endangered Species Task Force, as a Director and Treasurer of the Association of Zoological Horticulture, and President of the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society. Florida Audubon recognized Wendy as Volunteer of the Year in 2012. Wendy cared as deeply about people as she did about the environment. She loved the Southwest Community Church. In 2006, she melded her faith, her concern for the environment, and her compassion for people in her service work with ECHO, a faith-based organization dedicated to solving global hunger through sustainable farming. Acting as an ECHO Board Member from 2013 to present became a richly rewarding experience for her. She was an accomplished amateur photographer, a prolific reader, and a great and generous cook. She enjoyed swimming, fishing, kayaking, and volleyball. Wendy completed over 20 triathlons – all since her initial cancer diagnosis in 2008. She was inherently curious and instinctively kind. Wendy loved her family and she lived her faith. She was the beloved daughter of Kathy Matheison who predeceased her in 2004. She is survived by her husband of 27 years Michael Andrew, her father Robert K. Matheison and his wife Arra Mae, her aunt Linda Palmer Garberson, her siblings Cindy, Molly, and Robert, and her nine adoring nephews and one niece. Wendy encouraged us all to never fear our challenges, to live life to the fullest, and to love God by loving each other. A celebration of her life is planned for July 9, at The Pines, Windermere FL. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to" Michael

Sunday, June 12, 2016

More Thoughts of Wendy

One of our closest friends sent a very thoughtful email of her memories of Wendy. I trust she won't mind my sharing a portion of it. "Dear Michael, I can't begin to imagine all that you have been through the past few months or what you are feeling now but I wanted to send you a note. Wendy was an amazing lady who had a huge impact on my life. The word that comes to my mind when I think of her is strength. She was strong physically- She ran, she swam, she kayaked, she bicycled, she walked, she did marathons. When we kayaked together I always had to paddle my arms off just so I wouldn't get too far behind, unless we were going on one of our special relaxing kayak ventures which I treasured. She was strong in knowledge- She knew her plants and she was a great teacher. She always impressed me with how much she knew and also with her desire to continually be learning new things. She didn't just know how to grow plants but also how to use plants. She could make all sorts of tasty things and she seemed to have fun creating food for people to enjoy. I have memories of her in kitchens from Groveland to Pineland to Carolina. She was strong in relationships- she was a friend that I knew I could trust with anything and one that I could talk to about anything. She truly cared about others and she had a special way of making people feel loved and cared for. I always appreciated how she took time for the ECHO interns and I was always impressed with her trips to various places around the world and how she cared about people and was intentional about developing meaningful relationships. She was strong emotionally- she seemed to know herself well and that gave her the freedom to be herself. No matter what she was going through she always seemed to be thinking about others and was always concerned about others. She was strong spiritually- she had an amazing, unshakable faith in God that she lived out fearlessly. It wasn't just a theoretical thing, it was something that impacted her daily and something that was evident in all of her actions and attitudes. She was strong in joy- she laughed a lot. As I have been thinking back on all the memories, I've tried to fix her voice in my mind so I can always remember what her voice sounded like and when I remember her voice, I always hear it laughing. She enjoyed life and she drew everyone into her circle of joy. When I hear your voice Michael, it's usually saying something about your Wendy, so I can't imagine what you are feeling but I want you to know you are deeply loved and you remain in our constant thoughts and prayers. I am so thankful for the chance to get to know Wendy and have adventures together and be impacted by her strengths." Michael

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

After Wendy's cancer diagnosis she "Never Gave Up! Never Surrendered!". She continued to live her life as if cancer was just an inconvenience. Triathlons became a part of that. On Saturday, July 9, we will celebrate her life with family and friends at The Pines at Windermere. Details will follow so stay tuned. Additionally, we are working with David Erickson, CEO of ECHO, to establish what we are tentatively calling "The Wendy Andrew Memorial Fund for ECHO". Stay tuned for more on that also. Love ya, Michael

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Searching for the Words ......

Today you have a guest Blogger. The post will more poignant and certainly not as entertaining and witty as those in the past. How could it be? On Wednesday, June 8 at about 6:30AM, Wendy concluded her battle with cancer and succumbed to acute renal and liver failure. I have the pleasure of knowing many of Wendy's friends and blog followers. To those I have not yet contacted personally I apologize. There are sooooooooooooo many. I will keep trying. Please post your comments or questions to the blog. I will try to review them daily. At this time plans for a memorial celebration of her life have not been set. I will post information as it becomes available. The family and I ask, that in lieu of flowers or remembrance, donations be made to ECHO in her name. ECHO's work meant a lot to Wendy and as you know she is currently on their board. For those not familiar with ECHO you can learn more at the following: ECHO 17391 Durrance Road North Fort Myers, FL 33917 tel 239.543.3246 Wendy was always in God's hands and in her way did God's work. We can all be assured she is still safely in His hands. Love you, Michael and Wendy