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SPENGLER, Wendy Anne (nee Gordon)

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 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.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Deanna H. Turner :

    Words cannot express the loss of Wendy, she was so nice and a pleasure to know. The world would be a better place with more people like her. My love goes out to her family and friends, as I know how much we will all miss her.
    Deanna H. Turner

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  2. Thinking about Wendy’s family and praying for comfort in this time.

    Urquiza family

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  3. joanne and mike thorne :

    Words cannot express your loss but the day that she passed was a day for heroes as it was also 911. In my heart she was a hero! You never knew that she had cancer and I will always remember when I would see her outside how she would ask me how my father was and how I was doing. She was always concerned and giving good advice and I thank her for those words. I will miss her at our parties with the neighbors. Wendy is now with the angels and at peace.


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  4. Our thoughts are with you all.during this time

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  5. Northlands Old Girls' Association :

    On behalf of the Association, we would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Wendy.

    We are proud of her many achievements in life!

    Laurelle Barnett
    Northlands Old Girls’ Association

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  6. My Dearest Keith, Liam, Laura, Sally, Mr.& Mrs. Gordon, Graham & Kim, Gail & all the Gordon & Spengler Family,

    I am so very sorry that our Darling Wag has passed away. I am broken hearted as I am sure all of you are too. My Prayers and thoughts are with all of you as they have been each & every day.

    Wag is my dearest and oldest friend & I will treasure the memories I have of her and am blessed and privileged to have had such a wonderful friend. I will always hold dear our last get together in April. May she rest in peace – she is now in God’s loving arms.

    May God give you strength to cope with this, and peace and comfort to know that Dear Wag is now pain free, at rest and in God’s hands.

    With Much Love & Deepest sympathy to all of you.
    Brenda, Ashton & all the Renaud Family.

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  7. Roy, Donny, Garreth and Jaryd :

    Dearest Keith, Liam and Laura
    May the Lord keep you in the shadow of His wings during this terribly sad time in your lives. Our thoughts and prayers are constantly with you.

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  8. Guy & Cathy Moore & Family :

    Dear Uncle Brian, Auntie, Norm, Keith, Liam, Laura and family:
    Our sincere condolences on the loss of such a special lady “Wendy” I’m sure she is helping Auntie Lor run her nursery school up in heaven.
    Such a special lady deserves to be free from pain and now gets to see what her beloved family are doing without having to pick up the phone or skype. All our love to you all xxxxxx

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  9. Lyndy, Brett, Marc and Andrew Proctor :

    Distance has cushioned us from really knowing how much you suffered Wendy, but we salute you for your courage, your generosity of spirit and your determination to get the most out of each day. You have left a wonderful loving and caring legacy that will live on in your family. We know that you are at peace and our prayers are with Keith, Liam and Laura and all the family, for comfort and strength in the days ahead. All our love x x

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  10. Jenny and Doug Hardy and Family :

    Dearest Keith, Liam, Laura, Uncle Brian, Auntie Norm and all the family:
    Our thoughts and prayers go out to you all at this time. Wendy was truly special and we treasure her last visit with us in April this year. What a brave little fighter she was! Her strength and courage were amazing. Her legacy will live on in her two gorgeous children. ‘Life is not lost but changed’ and we will all be together again one day.
    All our love and thoughts. xxxx

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  11. Jennifer and Ed Quinn :

    Dear Keith, Liam and Laura,
    We are heartbroken at the loss of such a special friend. Our thoughts are with all of you during this time of deep sorrow. Wendy has left her mark in so many ways, on so many people. She was such a special friend to me over the years and I will miss her greatly. We have such wonderful memories of the many fun times we shared as couples (pre-children days), our trip to Mexico together, scuba dive trips, football games at the Bills in Buffalo,the numerous dinners and the list goes on and on. Wendy was a kind and generous soul and has had great impact on hundreds of peoples lives. I feel so priveledged to have known Wendy and will miss our many conversations on the joys of parenting! We are so thankful for our last visit together this June and are sorry we could not make it to Calgary today for her Service.
    Our love and deepest sympathy to you all,
    Love Jennifer and Ed xxx

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  12. Susan Velimirovic (nee Gordon) Milan and family :

    Our sincere condolences to the family on the sad passing of Wendy. No words can console or take the pain away, may you find comfort and strength in God. Our thoughts are with you at this very sad time.

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  13. Rob & Paulette Suitor :

    We are so sorry for your loss, the world has lost a true hero. Wendy was and will forever in our hearts. She was a true inspiration to me with her positive attitude towards such a terrible disease. Her attitude keeps me going and I will go for a long time.

    Our love to you and your family.

    Rob & Paulette

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  14. Susan Hamilton (Baker) :

    I just heard of the loss of my lovely school friend, Wendy and it has saddened me but I know that her family and friends are better off having known her.

    Go Well my friend.

    Susan Hamilton. (nee’ Baker)
    Brisbane, Australia

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  15. Renee Bahrs (nee Bisco) :

    To Keith, Liam, Laura & the whole Gordon family.
    I have looked on & off on Facebook & through other old Greys Hospital friends for news of Wendy over the years wondering where she was without success. I so regret losing touch with her. Now, I am just so sorry that I have found her, but only too late. I am so sorry for your loss. I will always remember her as an amazing & wonderful friend & person. God Bless you all, Renee.

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  16. Ernest Dunphy :


    I just heard about this. I am truly sadden for you and your kids loss.


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  17. Keith

    It was great chatting to you recently when I happened upon this sad news. I am still overwhelmed but pleased that despite the huge void Wendy left you and family in your lives, you have come to terms with your loss and continue to enjoy life with the wonderful memories you have of such a lovely person.

    Keep trucking,


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