Wendy Kathleen Griffith of La Cañada Flintridge, California, left this world the evening of February 3, 2023, after living with, and fiercely battling, stage 4 breast cancer for 11 1/2 years. She was 54 years old when she peacefully passed, surrounded by loved ones, in the family home.
Wendy is most known in the community for her dedicated service at the La Cañada Flintridge Library, where she was employed for the last 23 years.
Wendy was born on August 20, 1968, to Donna Gail Griffith and David Michael Griffith at the Hospital of the Good Samaritan in Los Angeles. She is described by her parents as a “brave soul” and “independent thinker.” She learned to swim at 10 months, and by age three, she was jumping off high dive platforms into pools and from sailboats into the ocean. At the age of 10, she read Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of the Species.”
Wendy was also born with a profound hearing loss, a condition which was not discovered until the age of two. Upon diagnosis, Wendy immediately started receiving Listening and Spoken Language therapy at the John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles and continued with similar spoken-language immersion therapy at Oralingua School for the Hearing Impaired in Whittier. She went on to attend public school in traditional classrooms, graduate from Pasadena City College, and eventually raise her son John David as a single mother.
Perhaps it was due to her early education and training, but certainly to her strong-willed nature, that Wendy chose not to identify as disabled. Only family and the very closest of friends knew of Wendy’s hearing loss. She moved through the world reading lips, catching sounds, discerning bits and pieces of phrases, all the while her hearing aids camouflaged by the veil of her long, beautiful hair. To all appearances, Wendy moved through the world easily — though those who knew her can only imagine the great effort it took.
Again and again, Wendy defied expectations. First, by functioning as a speaking individual when doctors thought she might never speak; and then by far outliving the prognosis she was given at the age of 42 as a stage 4 cancer patient. It was her dogged determination and unyielding positive thinking — her well-earned nickname “Wendy Warrior Princess” — along with the exceptional medical care she received at City of Hope that kept the cancer at bay for more than a decade. Her family is especially grateful to City of Hope’s Dr. Christina Yeon. Wendy had quality of life throughout most of her cancer journey.
In fact, throughout her years of chemotherapy, Wendy continued to work at the library with a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eyes. She lived for the days she could be with her co-workers, working alongside them, sharing coffee and stories and humor. She adored serving the library patrons. She’d had a lifelong love affair with books and the library was her world.
Wendy will also be remembered for her passionate interests in genealogical research, Norse mythology, and animals of all kinds — dogs, cats, and rabbits were always an integral part of her home and family. She was most passionate, though, about her son John David, the light of her life and her greatest love. Wendy will be greatly missed by all those who knew her.
Wendy is survived by her parents Donna Gail Griffith and David Michael Griffith; her son John David Griffith; her sister Jennifer A. Griffith; and her uncles Michael Britton, Anthony Cusic, and Timothy Cusic.
Wendy is preceded in death by her paternal grandparents George Cupp Griffith (“Pop Pop”) and Leona Annie Griffith; her maternal grandmother Mary Ellen Andrecht Chanca; and her loving godparents Joen and Chuck Mitchell.
In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that donations be made in Wendy’s name to any of the following 501(c)3 organizations: Pasadena Humane (https://pasadenahumane.org), City of Hope (https://cityofhope.org), or Friends of the La Cañada Flintridge Library (Friends of the La Cañada Flintridge Library (lcffol.wixsite.com).
Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date.