Wendy Wayne, 64, lost her battle to cancer on Sunday, but a remarkable part of her life's work started and was sparked right here in Studio City.
Wayne, who lived from Feb. 4, 1948 to June 17, met the love of her life, Gene Tackett, at a Peace Corps Christmas party in Studio City in 1973. That is the man who sparked her activism and world for the rest of her life. She had just returned from teaching in Kenya, was doing volunteer work in Mexico on the weekends and was training women to become health care specialist at Harbor General Hospital in Long Beach.
Gene was working at the Peace Corps recruiting office in Westwood. They became friends and two years later they fulfilled a mutual dream of world travel. They quit their jobs in Los Angeles and for eight months, with backpacks, they traveled by car, bus, train, boat and plane around the world. In 1976 Wendy moved to Oildale to work on Gene's first political campaign for Kern County Supervisor.
She continued to fulfill her wanderlust for travel and doing good works with a three month health project with her sister Cindy in Kenya, Bakersfield Sister City trips, Rotary polio ratification trips to India and Nigeria, working with her niece Ann Reiner in the Sudan and Uganda and family vacations including a revisit to her Kenyan village where she taught biology. She spent a month as a volunteer in New Orleans in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina.
Wendy held a goal of swimming in all five seas and making love on all the seven continents. In 2008 she reached her goal when Gene surprised her on her 60th birthday with a trip to Antarctica and a swim in the hot sand warmed water of the South Sea. After her return home from Antarctica in 2008 she entered what she called her 8th continent when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
After treatments at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and the City of Hope in Duarte, California, over the last four years, Wendy lost her battle with cancer on Sunday. During her cancer treatments she was working with San Joaquin Hospital as a consultant to develop a state of the art cancer center here in Bakersfield. Her goal in life was to make the world a better place for families and children. Those who knew her well know how successful she was in improving others' lives and her countless random acts of kindness.
Wendy Wayne leaves behind many friends who will continue to do random acts of kindness in her name.