How the not-so-Wild West is capturing Wendy!

She looks out her balcony window at Tollendale Village. There, nestled in the snow under glorious buds is a green street sign that says “Wendy’s Garden.” In her office/den perch artifacts from 50 years of bringing energy, wit, wisdom and humour to Barrie. Plaques of tribute. Photographs of achievements. Paintings of memory.

When Wendy Hicks left her home of many, many years on Debra Cr., two years ago it was to ‘downsize’ to Tollendale Village. Not only was she downsizing her space, she was reducing her responsibilities, moving to something more manageable.

And now, she looks at her beautifully comfortable furniture, her treasured cabinets, china, and paintings and thinks about downsizing again. She has acquired a small unit, bedroom, living space in a beautifully appointed building in Victoria, B.C.. Wendy Hicks is moving again.

If we think of the kitchen for a moment, and conjur up a reduction sauce… a sauce full of fabulous ingredients which is cooked until its pureness remains. The compilation of ingredients becomes the nugget, the concentration of what went before. And, that’s what Wendy is doing now. She is compressing the goodness of a half-century of remarkably big living so she can take what matters most. What she leaves will be equally important!

While this is a somewhat painful reduction for the woman who has so many friends, so much achievement in this community, she is making the shift with the same pragmatic decisiveness that she has demonstrated since moving here in 1958.

Wendy arrived from England, having touched down in Winnipeg for three years. Her husband, John, was a newly minted doctor with a passion for flying and they came to Canada on the Empire Training Plan. He trained flyers and he practiced medicine. When they moved to Barrie, their son, Tim, was eight.

“If you were married to a new doctor, and you wanted to eat, you worked!” remarks this maven of stage, screen, and studio. Coming to Barrie sent her acting career into a tailspin, but not for long. Wendy hosted her own television show on CKVR-TV; her own radio show on CKBB. She loved to connect people to each other and she did it with the most modern of media.

While Dr. John Hicks took up medical practice with Dr. Ross Turnbull, Wendy became great friends with Ethel Turnbull. In fact, this is likely her longest and dearest friendship in Barrie. As young women, they were keenly involved in theatre… Wendy from a production and performance aspect, and Ethel from the community connection. The Turnbull household goods regularly appeared on stage at early Gryphon Theatre productions, while Wendy involved herself in promotion, publicity and leadership.

She was an award-winning newspaper columnist for both The Barrie Examiner and The Barrie Banner. She appeared on CBC’s very popular Front Page Challenge–probably television’s first reality TV show, come to think of it.

She organized and produced the Georgian College Music Theatre for 13 years… a compilation of amateur and professional talent that hit the stage with an energy force. Wendy and her many, many associates became real moving forces at Gryphon, whether at the Board or the Guild level.

Despite all the theatre and all her media work, Wendy is most proud of her years on staff at Georgian College. She was the official ‘greeter’, making visitors comfortable, ensuring their time at Georgian was well invested..

With her move to Barrie came Wendy’s involvement with Canadian Save The Children Fund, a charity that has benefitted from 50 years of solid effort.

Now in her early 80’s, Wendy is still performing annually in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In fact, whether it was her early years at St Giles or her later years at St Paul’s in Innisfil, Wendy’s enthusiasm for theatre found its way into religious plays. What an ability: to write a tribute and cajole a group of ordinary people into theatrical greatness.

The list is endless. The life is very, very big. Wendy’s lived a life that’s been so full it’s stretched her memory to the breaking point. Always the solutions-based person, she is now protecting her commitments and ‘must do’s’ with little notepads and pencils throughout her apartment. She’s determined to manage this next phase of her life with equal effectiveness.

And why Victoria? Well, family beckons. England beckons, too, and Victoria is about as close to Chelmsford, Essex in England (her birthplace) as she’s like to get. She and John had one child, Tim, and he and his wife and daughters want Wendy to come home. She lived alone since John’s sudden death several years ago. She’s made the ‘reduction’ from her gracious English gardens and meticulous appointments to her comfortable apartment at Tollendale.

She’s busy. She just sent Christmas cards to friends all around the world. Her address book announces her dearest friends: Ethel Turnbull, the Chitticks, Frank Murphy (and Maisie, too, until her death), Edyth & Don French. Her theatre antics enlarged her circle to Lorraine Hovey, Mary & John Phillips, Bob and Lavina Delaney, Elsie Cameron, John HIggins, Evangeline & Douglas Williams..

She manages her substantial correpondence with her Hallmark Thoughtfulness Album. This precious book contains a month-by-month play by play of birthdays, anniversaries, death dates, her life. And it’s so like Wendy to have it all in a Thoughtfulness Album.

This book is really a map of her life. And, what a life it is! Thanks, Wendy!