Remembering Wendy Wayne

Local children's advocate dies of cancer at the age of 64.
Local child welfare advocate Wendy Wayne died early Sunday after a four-year battle with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
She was 64.

Born in 1948 in Culver City, California, Wayne was one of six children born to a pharmacist father and a mother who was a self-made business woman.

Wayne graduated from UCLA, and later became a registered nurse.

She volunteered for the Peace Corps, serving in east Africa. It was through the Peace Corp that she met husband of 36 years Gene Tackett.

Their life together and their passion for humanitarian causes, took them to the far corners of the world.

"I've never had an experience where I volunteered by time and resources where it hasn't come back to me compounded," Wayne told 17 News in 2005.

Wayne was a people person, and carried a torch for those in need, young and old, living here at home and in impoverished countries far beyond our borders.

"The friendships that you make, the experiences that contribute to you individually as a person are so valuable, you can't buy those," Wayne said in 2005.

More than once she's been referred to as 'the Mother Teresa of Bakersfield.'

"I have a little different take on that," said Wayne's brother-in-law Dan Chernow. "I really think that Mother Teresa was the Wendy Wayne of Calcutta."

Wayne wore many hats during her life in Bakersfield.

She helped create and direct the Community Connection for Child Care. She was executive director of Kern County's First Five organization, promoting childhood education. She held positions on countless non-profit and community boards, and up until recently was a consultant working to develop a new cancer center at San Joaquin Community Hospital, all this while she was being treated for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which took her life, after a four-year battle.

"Her family had been by here side for the last four days," Chernow said. "Her sister Cindy, her husband Gene and myself."

Ask anyone who crossed her path in life, and they'll probably tell you that Wayne had a gift for making you feel special, that she was much more interested in hearing about your life than telling you about hers.

Wayne was a devoted mother, wife, advocate and friend.

She and Bakersfield City Councilwoman Sue Benham go way back.

"She inspired people," Benham said Sunday. "Yes she had a lot of responsibilities, but she inspired people to give more of themselves."

Wayne was a rare breed. a soft-spoken woman who was so serious about serving others, yet so whimsical about enjoying life and what it had to offer.

She realized her cancer treatments had run their course, and knew her time on this earth was short.

In the end, it was her decision to live her last days, on her own terms.

"We're sort of busy right now, but everyone's holding up pretty well, even though we've had our moments," Chernow said. "But we're so driven by memories and great times with Wendy that we just can't end up without a smile every time we talk about her."
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