March 17, 1960 – September 11, 2011
Wendy Anne Spengler beloved wife of Keith and devoted mother of Liam and Laura, passed away on Sunday, September 11, 2011 at the age of 51 years.
Wendy was born in Germiston, South Africa on March 17, 1960. In 1977, she matriculated from Northlands Girls’ High School and went on to study at the University of Natal (Durban), where she graduated with a Masters Degree in Social Science (Psychology) in 1984.
After completing her post graduate studies, she worked as a Clinical Psychologist at Durban Child Welfare Society before she and her husband decided to immigrate to Canada in 1988. It was a very difficult decision for her to leave her family, friends and the people she cared so deeply about. Her love and compassion for the less fortunate in South Africa led her to work with the underprivileged from all racial groups and included the counselling of torture victims. Few knew of the work she did in black townships, rural areas and assisting political detainees find safe houses after political detention.
Upon arriving in Toronto in early 1989 it was only natural that she returned to the passion of her life, helping children in need. She started work at Halton Children’s Aid Society almost immediately upon arriving in Canada and spent a glorious five years working as a Social Worker/Supervisor. Wendy often described these years as the most rewarding of her career, as she thoroughly enjoyed the people she worked alongside and those she served with such dedication. During this period her skills and knowledge were enhanced by working with some of the authors of the text books she had studied at university and by presenting at numerous seminars and conferences.
From mid 1993 to early 1994 she and her husband took a year off to travel overland through Canada, USA, Mexico, Belize and parts of Southern Africa. This year of adventure allowed her to indulge her love of animals and the natural world (especially flowers and trees). Wendy’s love of animals derived from her formative years in South Africa, visiting game parks, caring for a variety of pets and hand rearing a baby African hare she was given after its mother had been killed. She always said that if she had not studied psychology and social work, she would have wanted to be a veterinarian.
A two year stay in Vancouver saw her continue her work with abused children, but this ended when she realized her most cherished role in life, as a mother. The birth of her son Liam in 1995 was like a dream and the family moved to Bermuda shortly after his birth, as she wanted to be a stay at home Mom and live in a sunny environment just like the one she had grown up in. The other half of her dream arrived in 1997, when daughter Laura was born. For much of those ten years in Bermuda she dedicated her life to raising and educating her beloved children, whom she chatted to from morning to night.
Once she felt the children could face the world alone, she returned to work, again finding a position working with those most in need of help. She worked for two years at the Maximum Security Prison in Bermuda counselling violent and sexual offenders. The family decided to return to Canada in 2006 to allow the children to grow up near to other family members who had also now immigrated to Canada and to immerse the children in her adopted Canadian heritage, she was so proud of.
Although she was not particularly sporty, nor did she relish the onset of winter, she loved skiing with the children and dog sledding at every opportunity. Her proudest sporting achievement was running a half marathon in Bermuda with her children waiting at the finish to meet their mother. Scuba diving, swimming, camping and hiking were other favourite activities she enjoyed during family vacations and weekends away.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2008, she took up the battle with a view to beating it, never giving an inch and reading everything she could to learn about the disease she confronted head on. Her concern and compassion for others continued unabated, as she was always “fine” and there were others with greater needs than her own. At Christmas she had the kids out with her delivering hampers to those less fortunate in Calgary and packed off clothing and other items to goodwill despite her compromised health. Her genuine interest in other people and her caring manner made her a master at extracting information and she was a caring friend who they could confide in and share their most intimate details. She would interact gently, yet firmly, with the most destitute in society and yet rise to sit alongside the most prominent business clients her husband entertained and would discuss travel, global issues and economics with ease. Her unique sense of humour and determination remained intact to her final hours, as she told loved ones that she was getting out of bed and did not need to be in hospital. Wendy’s tiny five foot frame finally gave up on her fighting spirit and she passed away the morning of Sunday, September 11 and she is now our greatest hero!
Besides her loving husband Keith and children Liam and Laura, Wendy is survived by her parents Brian and Norma Gordon; parents-in-law Theo and Heather Spengler; brothers and sisters, Graham, Gail, Sally, Duncan and Stuart; brothers and sisters-in-law, Kim, Bernard, Shaun, Jean, Titch, Debbie and Sue; and her ever faithful miniature schnauzer Tuck.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Bonaventure Catholic Church (1600 Acadia Drive S.E.) on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. This will be followed by a celebration of her life at the Heritage Pointe Golf Club (1 Heritage Pointe Drive, De Winton) at 3:30 p.m. Children are most welcome to join Liam and Laura at this event and if any family member, or friend, would like to share their memories of Wendy, she would be delighted. At Wendy’s request, PLEASE NO MOURNING CLOTHES. She wanted this to be a reminder of how joyously she lived her life and would like you to wear something green, her favourite colour. Wendy did not want flowers to be sent to our home. She asked that a donation be made in her name, to a charity of your choice that served the interests of children, or animals.
Forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. The family would like to extend their sincere thanks for the amazing care provided to Wendy by Dr. Alexander Patterson, Dr. Theresa Trotter and all the other staff at the Tom Baker Cancer Hospital, all the wonderful staff of Unit 47, especially Dr. Sara Pawlak and Dr. Ayn Sinnarajah, Dr. Ron Spice of community palliative care and all other professionals who helped Wendy in her courageous three year battle. She truly appreciated your wisdom, knowledge and guidance during her fight.
In living memory of Wendy Spengler, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Fish Creek Chapel, 14441 BANNISTER ROAD S.E. Telephone: (403) 256-9575.Print This Obituary & Condolences