Wendy Watson, a life-long progressive activist with deep roots in many different political, environmental, and social justice communities, died on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, after years of struggle against lung cancer. She would have turned 73 on July 16th.
Her daughter, Amy Julia Cheyfitz, has arranged a memorial service in honor of Wendy’s life and accomplishments on Saturday, August 3rd, at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor (4001 Ann Arbor-Saline Road), at 10:00 AM. Amy writes, “If you have photos you would like to contribute to a slideshow or display, email them to [me at] AmyJuliaCheyfitz@gmail.com. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to a local organization advocating and working towards reproductive and social justice.”
Wendy was a node person, someone who connected many seemingly disparate individuals and groups through her activism and her graciousness. If you were involved with the peace movement, the nuclear freeze campaign, reproductive rights battles, sustainable agriculture, LGBTQ equality, gun control, or any other organized progressive activity of the past 40 years in Detroit or Ann Arbor on behalf of equality, justice, and human rights, you’re likely to have known Wendy. A short, incomplete roll call of the groups she supported in multiple ways would include the Cranbrook Peace Foundation; the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights; Growing Hope; Obama for America; and the Cobblestone Farm Market. For many years, including 2019, she was a “headhunter” for the Buck Dinner, an annual fundraiser for leftists and progressives in metro Detroit. At an event like that, Wendy would be in her element since she probably knew just about everyone in attendance no matter whose table they joined. She would also have enjoyed the irony of a staunch vegetarian like her boosting an event that began with the shared bounty of a successful deer hunt.
Even after her diagnosis in late 2015 with Stage 4 lung cancer, Wendy continued to be as active as she could possibly be while seeking a return to health. She wrote on Facebook with honesty and courage about her treatments and her apprehension about what would lie ahead. For a while, it looked like she would beat the odds, since cutting-edge immunotherapy she received in Cuba seemed to work well. Given the daunting prognosis she faced at diagnosis, she did very well indeed. But of course, no matter how long a reprieve she had it would not seem long enough.
Wendy found great joy in her daughter, in her family, in her friends, in her UU community, in her far-flung associates and in her neighbors in co-housing. She was widely traveled, nationally and internationally; well-read; curious; always open to new people, places, and ideas. She made an effort to stay present and engaged till the very end of her life. The last selfie she posted on Facebook, a week before her death, shows her smiling as exuberantly and beautifully as ever.
We would all do well to live life as fully and as zestfully as Wendy. She was much loved, and she will be long remembered and greatly missed. May she rest in power.
— Catherine Daligga with the help of Kate Conway, Stu Dowty, Celia McLay, Jeannine Palms, Sharon Popp, and Chris Savage.