Wendy Illingworth
Wendy Illingworth

Obituary of Wendy Illingworth

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My lovely wife Wendy Illingworth passed away in the ICU at Dominican Hospital on Friday, January 26, 2024 from COVID and pneumonia, the effects of which were exacerbated by her long-standing lung (ILD) issues. She fought for over 3 weeks, ventilated and sedated, gaining the respect of the doctors and nurses for how determined she was, but in the end the damage to her body was too great. We had a wonderful Christmas vacation in Paris and France, but Wendy caught COVID as we were leaving Paris. She became very sick and had to be admitted in the ER within 3 days of returning to Santa Cruz. Wendy was born in Perth, Australia in 1947, where her brother Stewart and brother-in-law Barry and their families currently live. Wendy was a star pupil in her primary and secondary school classes. She attended the University of Western Australia where Wendy was remembered as being the only woman in the freshman mathematics class at that time. That was where we first met. There were limited professional opportunities for women in Australia in the 1960s, but Wendy enjoyed being a primary school teacher, specializing in remedial reading. We married in April 1969 and moved to the national capital Canberra where Garth was to do a Ph.D. in Astronomy at the Australian National University (ANU). Wendy continued her teaching as we built some life-long friendships with other teachers, and their spouses and with many of the astronomers at ANU. After Garth completed his Ph.D. in 1974, we relocated to Tucson, Arizona where he had a postdoc position at the US Kitt Peak National Observatory. Teaching had some added challenges in a new country and Wendy decided to change paths. She enrolled at the University of Arizona and completed a degree in Economics. We moved to Berkeley in late 1975 where Garth had a 2-year postdoc position at UC Berkeley. Wendy worked at PG&E on power pricing issues during that time. We then returned to Tucson where Wendy ultimately completed a master’s degree in economics while working pricing assessments for Tucson Electric Power. We moved to Baltimore, Maryland in the early 1980s where Garth had a position at the NASA-supported Space Telescope Science Institute. The move was done also to provide a broader range of job opportunities for Wendy. We developed many lifelong friendships from those years on the East Coast, and very much enjoyed our life in Baltimore, but both of us missed the western US and its wide-open spaces. An opportunity arose for us to move to Santa Cruz in the late 1980s when Garth got an astronomy faculty position at UCSC. Wendy then began the most interesting phase of her career as a consulting Economist. Wendy built her Economist background into a rewarding and beneficial career in California, consulting first on major electric power issues and then later on water issues. Her experience on electricity pricing at utilities in Arizona and California ideally positioned Wendy to provide insights into the electricity pricing crises that arose across California in the 1990s. But where Wendy really made her mark was with water agencies and groups across the sate in the 2000s. She recognized that many of the pricing challenges for water could benefit from applying what she had learned in the electricity crises. For 15 years Wendy worked under her own company named Econinsights to help resolve numerous water pricing and water distribution issues across California. Wendy loved to meet people and to travel, with her portable oxygen concentrator when needed. Wendy greatly appreciated and loved seeing our family and so many friends around the world (enjoying good local food and wine too!). She delighted in wild places, especially their birds and wildlife, across America, Africa, Australia and Alaska. Numerous trips were made to Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa), to Alaska to Brooks Camp in Katami National Park, to Yellowstone in winter, as well as yearly trips to the incredible red rock county of Southern Utah and the Four Corners area. Yet Wendy also was intrigued by the convoluted and complex development of humanity, particularly the political and exploration history of Europe, with its diverse cultures, art, music and architecture. Trips to Italy, Spain and France ensued as a result of this fascination with history. Santa Cruz provided a true home for 35 years for Wendy. Her love of sea life, birds, the ocean and redwood forests was so perfectly realized as she walked on the trails in Wilder Ranch, on the beach at Scott Creek, and along West Cliff Drive with friend Jocelyn Nelson. Whale watching trips were special events also. Wendy marveled at the birds she saw on the coast and around the bird feeders at our house. A stop overlooking the bird-covered rocks at Natural Bridges was always required after our weekend restaurant breakfasts. The Monarch butterflies in their yearly visits were a delight for her also. She loved to chat with the Docents in the local Parks about what she was seeing. As we drove along Felton Empire and other roads in Bonny Doon, where we made our home, Wendy would smile and comment on the striking beauty of the redwood forest. Santa Cruz, with our friends and its natural beauty, was for Wendy just the perfect place to be. Wendy is pictured here enjoying dog sledding, a pastime she loved, and on our recent trip to France. We spent two weeks around Christmas 2023, mostly in Paris, but also in Bordeaux and in the Loire Valley. Wendy is clearly enjoying her champagne and a snack in the Chateau Hotel Grand Barrail, Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux. I also greatly appreciate Wendy’s support, her thoughtful critique of my draft letters and reports, and her patience(!) for all the time I spent on research and on science policy activities and committees for Hubble, Keck, and JWST. Wendy also greatly enjoyed meeting people as a result of my professional activities. I do miss Wendy deeply. I am so grateful to Wendy, my spouse and partner of 55 years, for all her love, help, support, friendship and companionship, and for all the amazing memories. Fifty-five years was just not long enough! A memorial celebration will be announced later. Please check back here where the memorial celebration details will be updated. Wendy supported many charities; in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation. These four are representative and all have the top 4-star rating on Charity Navigator: American Indian College Fund (www.collegefund.org); International Rescue Committee (www.rescue.org); Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (www.suwa.org); Planned Parenthood (www.plannedparenthood.org).
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We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Santa Cruz Mission Chapel
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Wendy Illingworth

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Wendy Illingworth

1947 - 2024

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