Wende Harper
1931 - 2020
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Wende C. Harper
Wende Chrisman Harper passed away peacefully in her sleep in the middle of the night on February 1st with her devoted husband Richard Harper by her side, at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan. For the past five months that she was in bed, she was surrounded by longtime neighborhood friends, loved ones and relatives who all called and came to share stories, and hold her hand. She gained spirit and strength from all of them. We remember her as a lover of the woods, of education, of all the news that is fit to print, of talking on the phone and of chocolate. Her primary love was for her husband, her children, her grandchildren and her great-granddaughter.
Wende was born on March 14, 1931 in Worcester, MA. After elementary school her parents moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she finished high school. She graduated from Stanford University and then received a Masters in Arts in Teaching from Harvard University. Prior to the beginning of her teaching career she served for a year in a rural area of Costa Rica with the American Friends Service Committee. After returning to the U.S. she taught elementary school in Lexington, MA. She met her future husband, Richard, that year and they married in 1957.
After the birth of her four children, Wende was a devoted mother who instilled in her children an appreciation for family and the desire to help others. She spent her professional life teaching English as a Second Language in the Stamford elementary school system welcoming waves of immigrants from all parts of the world. It gave her great joy to learn cultural traditions from the children she taught. She was invested in them flourishing at home, in school, and beyond. Not only did she teach her students but she guided whole families as they adjusted to life in a new country. Among the many children who touched her were Ann Tu, Yetnel Francois-Fils, and Ross Bertrand, with whom she stayed close through their adulthood.
The environment had been a significant concern for Wende since her days at Stanford where she was active in the Alpine Club, and she attended reunions up until last year. She was a member of the Connecticut chapter of the Sierra Club for over three decades, during which time she served as a board member and secretary. She loved to spend time in nature, especially among the trees at her Wilderness Community home in Vermont. The family spent winters skiing from the cabin and summers swimming in Lake Ninevah, where Wende often swam across the lake and back as a form of relaxation.
Wende was deeply loyal and caring, and lived a grace-filled life, nurturing children, friendships and family. She held a special place in her heart for her brother, nieces and nephews, cousins, neighbors, and friends, and always stood by in times of need. She is survived by her husband of sixty-three years, Richard C. Harper of Stamford, Connecticut, her children, their spouses, their children and their children's children: Adrienne and Dave Magida of Middlesex, Vermont; Kyle, Kristi and Rebecca Magida, Lindsay Magida and Paul Outland, Roger and Heather Harper of New Canaan, Connecticut and their children Reed, Ryan and Patrick Harper, Cynthia Harper of San Francisco, California and her children Corinne and Camilla Sigmund, Sharon Harper and Dan DeGooyer of Somerville, Massachusetts and their daughter Adriana DeGooyer and her brought-into-the-fold "daughter" Pirjo Vaivio of Helsinki, Finland. She is also survived by the many children she taught, whose milestones and triumphs she encouraged, followed, and nurtured.
A memorial service will be held later in March at the North Stamford Community Church. Leo P. Gallagher and Son Funeral Home is handling arrangements. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Building One Community, an organization that supports immigrants in the Stamford, Connecticut area, or to the Sierra Club.



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Published in Stamford Advocate on Feb. 4, 2020.
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Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
March 9, 2020
Wende and Caesar in May, 1939
Wende and Caesar in May, 1939.
Don't they look happy --joyful!!
I do remember her talking about that dog :-)

(photo from family album by Wende's mom)
William Chrisman
March 7, 2020
"Wendy was my little sister. We grew up in Worcester. Uncle Steven Johnson and dad worked for my grandfather Johnson at the life insurance company in Worcester. Winters growing up in Worcester we had snow. We heard the snow plow clearing our street early in the morning. After the plow went by snow was left piled up blocking the driveways of the houses. Wendy, and dad and I had to shovel our driveway by hand. The garage was in the back and dad needed to drive to work. We dug through so dad could get his car out. Snow sledding was after school and on weekends.
"Aunt Marian and Steven lived up the hill from mom and dad's house on Laconia Road. Wende and I, and cousins David and Peter Johnson, enjoyed sledding after the storm cleared and the road was plowed. The hill up to uncle Steve's, Steven, was good sledding. Sleds had a rope loop on the front and you pulled it up the hill by the rope, and then all sled down again. Sleds had metal runners and went fast. We each had a sled. Some were painted red and some were varnished wood but they had metal runners. We had snow suits to keep us warm. Wende had woolen gloves and a hat. It really was a lot of fun!
"Sledding was down the hill on the road up by uncle Steve's place. Right after the plow came through was the best. The plow packed down the snow. We also went sledding in Jaffrey. Uncle Steven was married to Marion Mack. The Mack family farm was on Gilmore pond in southern New Hampshire. The address was Jaffrey. Wende's picture in mom's family photo album from sledding in Jaffrey, in November of 1937.
"Most of our sledding was on the hill up by uncle Steven's house in Worcester. When it was good sledding weather we stayed on the hill until it was time for supper in the two homes. After sledding, families shared back and forth together. Steven's house was half a block from ours."
Chan Chrisman
February 18, 2020
Wendy, Paradise Valley, 1948
"Wendy's picture from our family photo album, taken in Paradise Valley, 1948. Paradise Valley is near Phoenix in Arizona. Wende went to High School there. I did too, until going to Andover.
"It is mom's (Winifred Chrisman) handwriting in the album below Wende's picture. We lived in Paradise Valley before and after 1948.
"The picture is how I remember Wende. She looks good to me. In this picture, Wende would have been a teenager...she was born in 1931; she would have been around 17 years old.
"Mom and dad had horses in Paradise Valley. Corazon was mom's horse, and Papago was dad's. They were both good horses. Corazon was a gift to mom from J.C. Kinney at La Osa Ranch. Corazon is the word for 'heart' in Spanish. I don't remember where dad got Papago. Horses come and go, and people come and go, and that's alright.
"Wendy enjoyed horseback riding in Paradise Valley; we all enjoyed days riding with J.C. at La Osa. Riding in the desert you had brush in the foreground and a creek occasionally; the big thing was having the large vistas, and the distant blue hills on the horizon. Lots of room. Lots of distance. Lots of sky. Our days were long. Out on the desert you could be gone half a day, easily.
"We went there for dad's health and it worked. It gave dad more years with the family. Mom really enjoyed living in Arizona those years and I think Wende did too. It is a nice memory to think of mom and dad and Wende in Arizona. We enjoyed the people we met. It was a nice time of life. A nice memory."
Chan Chrisman
February 12, 2020
photo by Maye
"Wendy's picture in the obituary, because the hair is different, darker, younger, I didn't recognize it as being my sister. But I could accept that, yep, that's Wende. But Wende's picture from August 2019, that looks like Wende to me and I like her cheery smile. That's Wende to me!
"She was my younger sister and I liked the sound of her voice on the phone. We grew up together and we shared together. It's taken me a while to think of something, but let's see if you want to use it. Her letters came. I don't remember what her letters were about, but I could always recognize, right away, from her handwriting, when a letter was from Wende. Some letters, Wende typed a single-space page. She was a good letter writer! I was always glad to get a letter from my sister.
"We lived together in Massachusetts, summer vacations in Southern New Hampshire, and the family got word from dad's Boston doctor, that we had to move from Worcester to Arizona for dad's health. Dad had a job in Worcester. I came home from Worcester High School. School was out about noon and I walked home for lunch. Mom and dad were talking about how we had to move to Arizona.
"What I remember is that pretty soon after that, dad and Wende went to Arizona together by plane. It happened pretty sudden. Mom and I sold the home and put the furniture on a truck to Arizona. We sold the house kind of sudden and drove back, but dad and Wende went ahead of us by plane.
"Mom and I drove the family car to Arizona, with our bulldog. Our dog's name was Caesar. We had a blanket for Caesar to lay on the suitcase on the back seat, and Caesar watched the United States go by. Mom and I drove in the car together with Caesar to Washington D.C., first, before heading West.
"When we got to Arizona, dad had lined up a place for us to live and Wende had begun at Tucson High School. Wendy and I and mom and dad lived in a house. Arizona was too hot for Caesar, and he died soon after we arrived in the desert. The dry air was good for dad's health.
"Dad wanted to learn cattle ranching, and asked a banker about it. Later we got to know a cattleman, J.C. Kinney, and stayed on his La Osa Ranch. Mom and dad and Wende enjoyed riding horses on J.C.'s ranch. Later on, mom and dad put me on a plane back to Massachusetts, where I completed high school at Andover. While I was at Andover, mom and dad and Wende lived in Arizona, where she finished high school. After that, Wende and I went to Stanford University. I went first, and my sister followed me to Stanford. Mom and dad followed us to California. They bough a house in Atherton.
"Wendy joined the California Chapter of the Sierra Club, and she enjoyed Sierra wilderness and backpacking trips she organized with a group of like-minded university students. After Stanford graduation, Wendy kept in touch with her Sierra Club group.
"I don't have much memory of Wende after Stanford University and Korea. She raised a nice family with Uncle Dick in Connecticut, but I'm not remembering their children's names right now.
"Mostly I remember my sister from childhood in Worcester, and then, later, Wende's voice on the phone. Just the strong, clear sound of her voice on the phone, you know, right away, it was Wende. Her voice sounded cheery, optimistic, strong, clear. Always a pleasure to hear her voice. She was a good sister."
February 8, 2020
Wende's brother, Channing Chrisman
Dear Uncle Dick and Cousins,
Thinking of you with love out here in California.
Wendy's voice on the phone; I always enjoyed the quality of her voice on the phone.
She told me a year or so ago, that when she started school, I took her by the hand and walked her to school like the familiar September parade of parents and children. I didn't remember that but Wende did, and I'm glad she told me.
Cheers, Chan
Channing Chrisman
February 7, 2020
Dear Dick and family, Thinking of you with heartfelt thoughts and deepest sympathy.

Bob & Joann Frangione
February 6, 2020
Dear Dick and family,
What a wonderful obituary of a dedicated woman who had compassion for everyone. Fond memories of her from Four Brooks Rd, Stamford School system and ESL programs. Thinking of all of you.
Laurie Dolian
February 5, 2020
We are deeply saddened by Wende's passing and stand in mourning with our member, Dick Harper.

Senior Men's Association of Stamford
Phil Schechter, Fellowship Director
February 4, 2020
Wende's passing will be deeply felt by many.
Please accept my deepest sympathy,
Mr. Harper.
May Wende rest in peace.
Sincerely,
Frances Cyboski Uva
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