Wendy May Andrew, beloved daughter, sister and wife, passed away on June 8, 2016, from breast cancer. She was 54. Born in Anaheim, California, she moved as a child to Central Florida, where she grew to love its natural beauty and habitat.
A 1980 graduate of West Orange High School, Wendy went on to the University of Florida where she earned a Bachelor of Science in forest resources and conservation and a Master of Science in agronomy.
She began her professional life in 1985, as a staff assistant on the Environment to Sen. Lawton Chiles. In 1986, she became one of the first women employed as an aquatic plant manager for the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
She launched a 24-year career with Walt Disney World in 1992. As horticulture manager for Disney’s Animal Kingdom since 2000, Wendy lived her professional dreams. Along the way she met the love of her life, Michael Andrew, while engaged as a diver at EPCOT’s Living Seas Pavilion.
She took her passion for the natural world beyond her professional duties by consulting on environmental projects within Florida and around the world, including Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, Mexico, Cambodia and Thailand. She served on the Florida Department of Agriculture Endangered Species Task Force, as a director and treasurer of the Association of Zoological Horticulture, and president of the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society.
Florida Audubon recognized Wendy as Volunteer of the Year in 2012.
Wendy cared as deeply about people as she did about the environment. She loved the Southwest Community Church. In 2006, she melded her faith, her concern for the environment and her compassion for people in her service work with ECHO, a faith-based organization dedicated to solving global hunger through sustainable farming. Acting as an ECHO board member from 2013 to present became a richly rewarding experience for her.
She was an accomplished amateur photographer, a prolific reader and a great and generous cook. She enjoyed swimming, fishing, kayaking and volleyball. Wendy completed over 20 triathlons – all since her initial cancer diagnosis in 2008. She was inherently curious and instinctively kind.
Wendy loved her family, and she lived her faith. She was the beloved daughter of Kathy Matheison, who predeceased her in 2004.
She is survived by her husband of 27 years Michael Andrew; her father, Robert K. Matheison and his wife, Arra Mae; her aunt, Linda Palmer Garberson; her siblings, Cindy, Molly and Robert; and her nine adoring nephews and one niece.
Wendy encouraged us all to never fear our challenges, to live life to the fullest and to love God by loving each other.
A celebration of her life is planned for Saturday, July 9, at The Pines, Windermere, Florida. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to ECHOnet.org.