SCI Celebrates Wendy Shadwell

Sep 19, 2008

by John McGrath, Senior Development Officer

Seafarers served by Seamen’s Church Institute – especially through Christmas at Sea – will benefit from a bequest of $100,000 given by Wendy Joan Shadwell, who died in New York City last October.  SCI recognized the gift at a luncheon honoring Wendy on September 9, welcoming her friends Janice Coleman, Richard Allgaier, and Myrna and Fred Lipinski.

Wendy built a long and distinguished career at the New-York Historical Society, where she oversaw and expanded the Society’s extensive holdings as curator of prints.  Understanding the importance of reaching out to the general public, she developed numerous exhibits from her department’s collections.  She was acknowledged as an expert in the field of American prints and printmaking – including the works of John J. Audubon – and she wrote and lectured extensively.

Wendy’s commitment to supporting Seamen’s Church Institute grew from her desire to achieve practical results that can benefit people.  Her mother, Phyllis, shared this commitment.  Their work for SCI began with the many hats, mittens and scarves contributed to Christmas at Sea by Phyllis and her fellow knitters at the Episcopal Church of St. Andrew on Staten Island, where Wendy spent her childhood.  

The generous gift given to Seamen’s Church Institute – one of fourteen charities selected by Wendy – is a lasting testament to her love and concern.  Wendy chose the organizations that she wished to support with care.  In many ways, these charities have become her children, a living memorial to Wendy and the Shadwell family.  The legacy left by Wendy and her parents Phyllis and Howard will carry on forever in the lives of seafarers – every time a knitted hat or scarf from Christmas at Sea warms a cold heart!

The Church of St. Andrew provides another example of Wendy’s devotion to helping others.   When an elderly parishioner tripped on a step entering the church, Wendy saw that handicapped access would prevent other accidents, and she offered the means to construct a ramp between the church and the parish hall.  SCI chaplains the Rev. Jacques Girard and Dennis Genovese, who knew Wendy and Phyllis well at St. Andrew’s and who deliver CAS Christmas packages to crews on the ships in Port Newark and New York, said that Wendy “wanted it fixed, and it was fixed”. The ramp and the thousands of gifts knitted by Phyllis and the Episcopal Church Women of St. Andrew’s become just a few of the ways Wendy and her mother have given a lasting, practical legacy to people in need.