Honoring Fern Wick

My mom, Doris, and my mother-in-law, Fern, were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a year apart and ended up living in the same assisted living/memory care facility. Their journeys, from the time they were diagnosed until they passed away, spanned 13 years. There were highs and lows for all of us throughout those years, but I learned incredible life lessons: how to accept help from others and how to care for myself. From my “moms” I learned the importance of living in the moment because with dementia, there is no past or future.

Fern was born in Fossten, MN in 1921. She graduated from Sacred Heart Nursing School in Spokane, WA, motivated by a strong desire to help her father and others afflicted with medical problems.

Fern enlisted in the U.S. Army where she met the love of her life, the late Dr. H. Ward Wick, at Fort Ord, CA. He wanted to marry her right away, but she insisted that they wait until after they returned from their separate wartime assignments. Fern was stationed in England and Ward in Alaska where they cared for wounded soldiers during WWII.

After the war, the two were happily reunited. They married and lived in Kennewick, WA and San Francisco before settling in Sonoma County. Fern and Ward had two children: Julie and Ivan; and four grandchildren: Aaron, Dana, Amber, and Darin.

Fern worked alongside her husband in his ophthalmology practice as a nurse, office manager, and bookkeeper, assisting him on the many house calls he made to patients. She volunteered her time traveling to elementary schools to test the vision and hearing of hundreds of children.

Fern actively supported a number of organizations including the Santa Rosa Ballet Guild, the Memorial Hospital Medical Auxiliary, the Sans Souci Dance Club, the Santa Rosa Symphony, and the American Red Cross. Among Fern’s many passions were spending time with family and friends, playing golf, reading books, walking on the beach, listening to music, traveling, caring for her plants, playing bridge, and researching her Norwegian roots back twelve generations.

– Patti Wick

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