Wende L. Davis /
October 23, 1946–August 12, 2009
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DAVIS Wende L. October 23, 1946 – August 12, 2009. The rich and vibrant life of Wende L. Davis came to a peaceful end in the early morning hours of August 12, 2009 due to brain cancer. Wende died as she lived, surrounded by colour and light, the extraordinary love of her wide circle of friends, and her family. Wende was born and raised in West Vancouver where she explored the lanes, woods, creeks, mountains and ocean beaches. Lighthouse Park and Hollyburn Mountain were favourite destinations. She attended Pauline Johnson Elementary School, Inglewood Junior High and West Vancouver High. She then spent two years at UBC, followed by a short time teaching in Surrey and returned to UBC to graduate with a degree in Anthropology. She developed her studio practices through studies at the Emily Carr University of Art & Design (formerly, College) and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1997. After studying yoga and completing an apprenticeship with Maureen Carruthers, which included travels to Pune, India to study with BKS Iyengar, Wende became a much-admired teacher in Vancouver. One of the small group of the earliest Iyengar Yoga teachers, Wende guided hundreds of students with her characteristic humour, strength, and wisdom for thirty years, teaching until just weeks prior to her death. Wende also trained, mentored and supported many local teachers with patience, skill, and generosity. As a young woman, Wende traveled to Los Angeles and became a founding member of Woman House. Feminist in their actions and methods, Wende was among women who created a place where they found their voice in and through art, and created a west coast women's art movement. The impact of this experience can be seen in all of Wende's artwork. An accomplished and versatile artist working in ceramics, sculpture, painting, drawing and photography, Wende was very involved in the arts in Vancouver and recently finished an extensive series of portraits that speak of diverse groups of people and the individuals within them. Wende's life was enriched through travel. Amongst her many adventures she lived with two First Nations families, one in Kitimaat Village and one in Haines Junction, Yukon in her early twenties. She particularly loved Marj Jackson, a respected elder in the Champagne Aishiak First Nation. Wende and her friend Marianne very bravely walked sixty-three miles on the White Pass railroad tracks from Carcross to Skagway before there was a road. High tressel bridges, numerous trains at unknown times and bears were not deterrents to this grand adventure. Her body was as strong as her mind; in her fifties Wende walked as a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and through the rugged landscapes of the East Coast Trail in NFLD where she enjoyed the storytelling traditions of the people she met. An active member of the Saturna Island community, Wende had, this year, finally completed the construction of her beautiful cabin. It was what she always dreamed it would be, filled with light, elegant in its simplicity, environmentally sensitive, and comfortable. It was her sacred space. Words hardly capture Wende's wondrous sense of curiosity, and passion. She was always fun to be with and always open to adventure. Wende loved her garden, her home, time alone, doing varied and stimulating things with people she cared about, exploring and learning. A longtime meditator in the Vipassana Buddhist tradition, Wende strove to integrate mindfulness, intention, and clarity into every aspect of her life. As a yoga teacher Wende was a public figure, but a private person, eclectic, gentle, funny, introspective, sometimes fierce, and always true to herself. Wende built a rich, full, and exceptionally diverse life for herself. With her shock of thick hair, in its many permutations, Wende was instantly memorable and absolutely unforgettable. For those of us privileged to know Wende, the world was enriched; now we feel our loss deeply. But Wende taught us to stay in the present. We carry our beloved Wende with us in the way we hold our bodies, in the way we care for others, in the way we see the stars at night or look at art or walk in a garden. The story of Wende's life does not lie in a single telling; it is a story of many voices echoing an extraordinary person. Wende will be greatly missed by her large circles of friends, her family, her neighbours, the Iyengar Yoga community including teachers and her students, and her beloved cat Karsh. Wende is predeceased by her father, Tom, and sister, Heather Thomson. Wende is survived by her mother, Doris, brother, John, nephews, Larry (Linda), Brian (son Colby), nieces, Lyndsay Thomson, Christina (Trevor) Krahn, aunt, Doreen Clemence, and Ross (Linda) Thomson, and many other relatives. Wende was cared for with great tenderness by close friends in her final days, and held in the thoughts of hundreds more. Deepest gratitude to Diana Smith, Kathy Mandigo, Susan Smyth, Dr. Sandi Witherspoon and the nurses at Vancouver General Hospital. A Memorial for Wende, a celebration of her life, was held on September 12th, 2009 at Celebration Hall, Mountain View Cemetery, 5445 Fraser Street (at 39th), Vancouver. Wende's recent artwork was on exhibit in her studio at 347 East 28th Avenue during The Drift, October 3 and 4.