Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wendy Williams

Sad news: North Coast playwright Wendy J. Williams has passed away. She came to Humboldt as a journalist but found a home in theatre, first by acting for the Pacific Arts Center Theatre, Ferndale Rep and NCRT in the 1980s and 90s, and then earning an MFA in dramatic writing at HSU. Among her works was a one-person show, Motherhood: Made in China, based on her own experiences adopting a girl in China. She performed it at the Plays in Progress theatre. Her play Range of Light, inspired by the life of Eureka’s Carole Sund and her murder at Yosemite, was produced at HSU in 2006. (This small photo is from a group shot when she participated in the HSU 10 Minute Play Festival.)

Over those years she worked with many people still active in the North Coast theatre community.  I wrote a little about her in my Stage Matters column this week, and I knew of several people involved in productions mentioned in the column that she worked with.  Her teachers at HSU, her editor at the TV publication she wrote for, all admired her.

 I spoke with her at length only once, when I talked to her about Range of Light, with her daughter (then in grade school, now a teenager) doing her homework at the next table in the late afternoon light on the Wildberries patio.  She was the only person who specifically mentioned reading the last chapters of the paperback edition of The Malling of America, in which I wrote about the experience of writing and publishing it.  As a journalist and freelance writer, that interested her.

 Of her portrait of motherhood in Range of Light, she told Journal reporter Cynthia E. Gilmer: "Even the little, everyday acts of kindness can lead to greatness." It’s one kind of greatness by which Wendy will be remembered.


Marylandmom said...

Wendy and I "met" in an online book discussion group in 1995, and although we lived on opposite sides of the country, our lives eerily paralleled each other's. We were both journalists, both adopted girls from China as single parents, and, sadly, both had ovarian cancer. We lost touch for a number of years, but reconnected when Wendy's cancer came back with a vengeance. I hadn't heard from her for a couple months and was worried she had passed away. Could anyone let me know if there are any other online obituaries or a way to contact her family?

Barbara Ruben, outside of Washington, DC

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the person in the photo is not Wendy, though I think that's her eye on the right.

Wendy was a very intelligent, unique woman. I would have liked to have seen an obituary in the paper and certainly the correct photo here. She was much more of a presence in life- it feels as if she just disappeared.

BK said...

I've removed the photo until I can verify it. As far as I know, there's no official obituary yet, and I have nothing to do with that one way or another. I simply wanted to see that she had some recognition.