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Remembering Wendy Davee

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Farewell Dear Friend and Beloved Teacher

Holly Reusing, M.A. (Counseling Psychology, 2005) | 24 August 2012

It was with a heavy heart that I responded to Dianne’s news this past Monday regarding our dear Wendy Davee’s rapid decline in health. I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear that she was in hospice care and not surprised to know that she was surrounded by loved ones. After seeing Wendy recently at graduation, it hardly seems possible that she experienced these severe changes. I was moved to write to her to reiterate how important she really was to us as students and to Pacifica’s Counseling program, and to me. In the midst of travels this week, I did not get that last message to her and I am so incredibly sad to hear today that our quiet steadfast leader moved on last night.

As I was writing to my fellow classmates today, I thought about how impossible it is to gage the impact of losing such a wonderful professor. It is impossible to calculate the measure of her gifts to us in our training as therapists. In this field especially, the lives of students, their families, and clients are forever impacted by the tutelage and leadership she gave to us. Even though I did not get the card out this week, I believe Wendy knew. Her humility was genuine but her ego was strong and I trust she knew how the students and faculty all felt about her.

I remember once in our second year (2004) when Dr. Kipnis came to substitute for a practicum class. We were sitting out front on the grass. It was a deeply experiential day toward the end of our coursework, and he made a comment to us that struck hard and deep. He asked something to this effect: “Do you all know how fortunate you are to have this group of women working with you? You are extremely blessed to have such a powerful and dedicated team leading you through this process. I hope you realize that compared to many other educational opportunities, what you have here is very special.”

When we teach, we are entrusted with a special role, the power of which is so often underestimated. It is from people like Wendy that we learn to become aware of the imbalances in such a powerful role, in the dyad, and use them to the highest good. I cannot think of anyone who embodied this fairness better than Wendy. Her commitment to maintaining balance in these relationships seemed closer to the level of a spiritual mystic than a professor.

I shared a personal projection with Wendy a couple years back at a Pacifica public program on campus. A little embarrassed, I approached her and let her know that she had always reminded me of my mother. Although she was from a different era and had achieved a totally different set of accomplishments, her mannerisms and kindness were often strong reminders of my biological mother. I often imagined what it might have been like for my mother, who came of age in the 50s, to have achieved a professional career and the type of personal awareness that Wendy had. It was an inspiration to me and helped me also to develop compassion where it had not been before. I remember feeling ever so touched when she simply told me in her calm, soothing voice how sweet that sounded and how much she appreciated my sharing that with her. She was ultimately a woman of compassion, and she had a level of tenderness mixed with personal and academic wisdom that could rival any healer.

I regret that I have not been privy to much of the ongoings of the Counseling program in recent years after Wendy took the position as Chair. I know that these gifts rippled through students’ lives and academic and work experiences both on the surface in practical ways and to the deepest of levels. It goes without saying that Pacifica has lost a great leader and that Wendy will be terribly missed. I cannot make any sense of the 8-week plunge into terminal illness and quick death that she endured. There is no way to do that; but, I can (and am) meditating and contemplating with those qualities that she modeled, resolving anew to work toward them in my own life.

Although we have permanently lost one of the Pacifica Counseling Dream Team, it is the deepness of that loss that can somehow charge us to carry forward those principles as people and as an institution.

Perhaps it is too early for many and the poem asks too much, but when death comes, and we have the special luxury of recalling the best of our warriors, it is possible as always that we may be called…

 

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•|  REFLECTIONS  |•

Many expansive and illuminating observations and homages were posted in the “Reflections” section included with “Remembering Wendy Davee” in its original appearance at the initial website of Pacifica Graduatae Institute Alumni Association. We have collected them here, with posting dates, for your exploration and further reflection.

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Gail Lyons  | M.A. Counseling Psychology, 2011 | 1 Feb 2013
Looking at the pictures just now of Wendy with her students and colleagues brought tears to my eyes … I learned so much at Pacifica and so much of what I learned was from her. Some part of her spirit is with me every time I sit with a client, holding them as she held me.

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Christine Barto  | M.A. Counseling Psychology, 2012 | 29 Nov 2012
I will always remember Wendy sittng down with me and sharing a meal, when she knew I was having a challenging time as a mother and student. Wendy always offered such a wise, grounded and loving presence. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family.

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Kevin Davis  | M.A. Counseling Psychology, 2010 | 14 Oct 012
It seems only yesterday that Wendy taught our classes and later hooded us at graduation. Her kindness, intellect, poise, and warmheartedness embodied Pacifica’s motto.

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Cindy Carter | 30 Aug 12
Wendy’s elegance, glowing nature, thoughtful attention to detail, and warm elegance will always live in my heart. We laughed, cried, dreamed, played, sang, and created together. The commitment Wendy held for her colleagues was profound. She was the classiest woman I have known. Classy and sassy! We have all been blessed to know her.

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Allen Bishop  | M.A. Counseling Psychology, 2012 | 30 Aug 2012
The sudden loss of Wendy has touched all of us have worked along side her at Pacifica during the last several years. She was devoted to her students and faculty and always offering that big beautiful smile whenever you saw her. Her legacy in part is a wonderfully robust Counseling Program.

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Anne Kollath  | Retired Pacifica Professor | 29 Aug 2012

Say not in grief that she is no more / But say in thankfulness that she was. — R. Tagore

I am thankful for the years I had with Wendy as my colleague and friend.

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Laura Young  | M.A. Counseling Psychology, 2011 | 27 Aug 2012
Oh my heart hurts at this news. I had the privilege of learning from Wendy and especially will never forget the elegant compassionate and wise woman who interviewed me and guided me through my first year process class. I’m in shock. My thoughts are with all of us who were touched by Wendy…and still my heart hurts…

Laura Young, M.A. | L Track, 2011

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Dennis Slattery  | Core Faculty, Mythological Studies Program | 27 Aug 2012
Over the years, every time we met on campus, Wendy and I would find a handful of topics to vist about. My fondness for her grew every time we spent time together. He courage and her quiet ways will always be with me.

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Rosaura Ochoa-Bontemps  | M.A. Counseling Psychology, 2012 | 26 Aug 2012
Wendy was the very first person that welcomed me at Pacifica a few years ago. I can still hear the softness of her voice echo in my ears, and the sparkling look she gave you as she smiled.

Her presence, and words exchanged, had a strong impact in my life…forever…thank you Wendy…you did touch my soul in a very unique way!

I had a dream last night in which I am reading this poem from Robert Frost… I woke up in tears…

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

A very grateful student,
Swany Ochoa-Bontemps

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Dianne Travis-Teague  | Associate Director, Office of Alumni Affairs | 24 Aug 2012
An Old Irish Blessing for Wendy (Always in our Hearts):

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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