September 4, 1942 –February 9, 2018
Our older sister, Wendy, worked through her first 25 years to find that elusive path to personal happiness, finding many challenges along the way. Then, while working at Issaquah Sky Sports parachuting center, she found Clarence “Topper” Birdwell, an experienced skydiver and fun companion. Shortly after meeting, they married and started a happy life together. Sadly though, after just a year of marriage and no children, she witnessed his death in a parachuting accident and her life challenges started all over again.
Despite this setback, Wendy remained connected to her family, sister Trudy Krastins, of Issaquah, sister Sheila Finkenbinder, of Sitka, Alaska and brother David Webster, of Anacortes. Over the next 50 years she put her considerable artistic talents to work for her extended family, including sewing beautiful stuffed animals and Christmas stockings for nieces and nephews, making wonderful collages from simple supplies, doing needlepoint and being a reliable baker for holiday events. She definitely had an eye for color, and was the most artistic of all of us. We, her siblings, are envious she was the only one in the family who learned to play the Hammond organ our father kept in the living room. She also loved going to the movies, and brother David knew he could always ask her for recommendations, as she’d have seen everything on the first day out in theaters.
Wendy grew up in the Benotho neighborhood on the south end of Mercer Island from 1950 to 1964, spending lots of time on the water and at the Beach Club. She attended Mercer Island High School and St. Paul’s in Walla Walla, and graduated from Western Washington University. She lived and worked in Seattle most of her adult life and at 65 moved into the welcoming halls of the Timber Ridge retirement community in Issaquah where she made many friends and benefited from their comraderie, shared dinners and joke nights, and caring attention to her well being. Moving there was the best decision she made in her later years. Special thanks go to her friends Marsha, Mollie, Jean, June and Tina at Timber Ridge.
In her last few months the sad scourge of dementia caught up with Wendy. We thank the compassionate and professional attention from the staff in Briarwood’s memory care unit, particularly that of Jessica Colis, R.N. who excelled as an empathetic caregiver.