In Memoriam: Remembering Gwen Hendly

AFRH residents and PLC volunteers, Gwen Hendly and George Wellman

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our dear friend and dedicated Cottage volunteer, Gwen Hendly. “Ms. Gwen” as she was affectionately called by many, was a distinguished veteran and resident of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH), on whose campus President Lincoln’s Cottage lies. Gwen resided here for over a decade, and witnessed the Cottage transform from a construction site during the capital project, to the thriving place it has become today. Throughout that time, Gwen was always eager to help with various projects, events, and programs. To many, she was considered the unofficial ambassador of AFRH, and welcomed with a contagious smile thousands of visitors, students, politicians, and dignitaries. She was devoted to her work at the church on the grounds as well as serving the community, inside and outside of the gates. To honor Gwen, PLC staff wanted to share some of their favorite stories and memories.

Sahand Miraminy recalls:

A favorite memory for many on staff actually took place off campus. Gwen and her partner George were gracious enough to join us on a trip to a local elementary school for a presentation on the Cottage and Soldiers’ Home. Clearly, the highlight for the students was an opportunity to have a meet and greet with two real life veterans! We sat there among all the curious listeners, hearing their fascinating and inspiring stories regarding their military service. Gwen spent her career caring for her fellow comrades, whether it be from on the ground or from a soaring helicopter. One could imagine the variety of questions they were asked that afternoon from the school children. Towards the end of the visit, one student asked Ms. Gwen if she drives a tank. Without missing a beat, she responded, “No, I drive a Hyundai.” To this day, we can’t help but chuckle whenever someone brings it up.

I also look back at the emails where I would ask volunteers to come in to help with a project, and 95{ec117f0059f8cde3a5e4f5b3c1b486659702d407977a37ffc575d2c0a9b4a69f} of the time she would respond with “YES, YES, YES!,” and then say something about how excited she was to help.

Jamie Cooper adds:

Several years back, I played for the Soldiers’ Home Diamondback softball team. During this time, Gwen and George would cheer us on as we played nearby rivals. “Go Jamie” was always the cheer I would hear. It made playing for the Home so much fun.

Gwen had an uplifting, joyful, and selfless spirit. She was always willing to assist, support and go out of her way to be there for others. Whether it was in the museum store, on the softball field, or at the Museum Shop Around event each November, Gwen’s spirit will be there.

Michelle Martz explains:

When I think of Ms. Gwen, the Maya Angelou quote comes to mind, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Every person that came in contact with Ms. Gwen felt instantly happy from her laugh, covered in loved by her words, and comfortably supported by her hugs. It will be impossible to forget Gwen Hendly because the love she shared has been left in the hearts of everyone she touched.

George and Gwen on Family Day, September 2016

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