Wendelin Montciel left this life on New Year's morning 2013. She had contended with cancer for more than four years.|
Wendelin was born on April 26, 1950, in Astoria, Oregon, and grew up in San Diego, where she got an under-graduate degree in Art History at UCSD. She designed and built exhibits for the Birch Aquarium in San Diego, and for the Academy Studios in Marin County. She received a master's degree in education in Paris, France, and she finished her career as Exhibits Curator at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz. She took pride in her work, and rightly so. Wendelin was able to present complex concepts in simple ways by refining words and perfecting visuals until each exhibit pleased the mind and the eye.
Her other favorite medium was pencil and paper. Rarely without a sketchbook, she would fill them up, one after another, with drawings that effortlessly captured the essence of her subject with only a few well-placed lines. Late in life, Wendelin took up painting, and that gave her great joy.
Wendelin stood up to challenges, and she was forever the student of whatever she found interesting or attractive. She entered the male-dominated world of Tai Chi Chuan and achieved the highest level of mastery, and went on to become a respected teacher.
Wendelin thought of herself as an explorer and she cherished the many opportunities she had to travel. She has also lived abroad twice, first in Oslo, and later in Paris. She loved the French culture, language, and people. On any given day, she would always rather be in Paris. The signs were there early. Her name at birth was Wendelin Ann Valleau. As an adult, she changed her last name to Montciel, meaning mountain-sky, in French.
Wendelin was attracted to smart, impassioned people, and they to her. She kept many close friends and her dedication to each of them was unwavering. That went both ways, as was evident in the enormous love and caring she received when she needed it most.
She is predeceased by her parents, John and Ruth Ann Valleau. She is survived by her brother, Tracy Valleau of Seaside, CA; her sister, Cris Warren; her nephew, Jesse Warren of Borrego Springs, CA; her cousin, Jill McKee of Aptos, CA; among many other relatives and friends; and her beloved cat, Jamie.
All her life, Wendelin Montciel sought and created beauty and she has given it to each of us.
Published in La Jolla Light on Feb. 14, 2013