A Women’s Day Tribute to a Redwoods Champion

Wendy Hayward and her husband Rich Wendling.
Wendy Hayward and her husband Rich Wendling.
In honor of International Women’s Day, commemorated annually on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history, Save the Redwoods League honors the late Wendy Hayward, a tireless advocate for the redwood forest.

Wendy, 50, a member of the League’s Board of Directors since 2015, passed away on January 17, 2018, after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

She was a thoughtful and generous supporter of land conservation for many years through her personal giving, and from that of the Nancy Eccles and Homer M. Hayward Foundation, named after her parents. A California native, Wendy was an enthusiastic supporter of the League’s Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative and 2013 Symposium; Mailliard Ranch and other land projects; and our Centennial commemoration and communications activities. A CPA, she served on the Finance Committee, and was Co-Chair of the League’s Centennial Gala Committee.

Wendy first joined the League as a member in 1996 and in 2011, answered the call to protect the Noyo River Redwoods. Together with her family, she donated $1 million to the campaign to protect this ancient redwood forest and dedicate the Homer Hayward Whistle Stop along the Skunk Train route past the giant trees. As a young father, Homer would take his family on Skunk Train excursions through the forest while visiting the other lumber companies in Mendocino County. “The redwoods have always been near and dear to his heart,” she said. “Our entire family was so excited to support this effort to protect this magnificent redwood forest as a lasting legacy in dad’s memory.”

Wendy was as kind as a person could be. She was deeply committed to her family and her children, exceptionally active in their school activities, and cultivated a family tradition of giving back. Caring for the environment, animals, human health and welfare, and education were among her passions. From the Monterey Bay Aquarium to the Boys and Girls Clubs – she gave generously and supported so many organizations with a caring and compassionate heart.

Wendy’s commitment to forest conservation, her unique sense of humor, boundless energy and passion for our work was inspiring. To meet Wendy was to have an instant friend, and those of us who got to work with her closely knew her warm heart, her sharp wit, her strategic thinking, and her brave and open spirit. The world is a hugely better place because of Wendy. We can’t begin to enumerate all the good she has accomplished, but we can acknowledge that the redwoods are standing tall because of her, and the League is stronger organization because of her leadership and generosity. She will be deeply missed.

About the author

Suzanne Moss, Campaign Director at Save the Redwoods League, is a leader in conservation fundraising and marketing.


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