Wanda Ellithorpe-Fletcher, 64, died at 6:31 p.m. on Friday, September 20, 2019, from injuries sustained in a three-car accident in Davis, California. Wanda was born on June 20, 1955, in Ontario, California and was the youngest of five children. She resided in Oak Park, Illinois with her beloved daughter, her son-in-law, and three of her five grandchildren.
Wanda was a loving and selfless mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, and nurse. Helping others—her family, friends, co-workers, her children’s friends, and strangers—brought her tremendous joy. Yet Wanda’s greatest happiness came from her children and grandsons. Wanda loved to spoil them with love, attention, hugs, kisses, and gifts. Wanda was known for routinely sending her grandsons superhero and monster truck gifts on Zulilly and Amazon Prime. Wanda was tickled to buy and assemble large, outdoor playhouses for each set of grandsons. Before her untimely death, Wanda was working on her “40-year wellness plan” so that she could keep up with her rambunctious grandchildren as they grew into adulthood.
Wanda was an incredibly gifted fused glass artist. She enjoyed creating works of art as gifts and for nonprofit auctions to help raise funds for the arts, health care, and the homeless. She and her sister, Gina, spent countless hours in the garage with their kiln creating glass work together. Wanda always said her glass work was her “Prozac.” Despite her talent, she refused to sell her work because it would “take the fun out of it.” Wanda had a love for teaching this art form, and taught countless people how to fuse glass and make glass beads. Wanda also had a passion for interior design which she loved to do with her daughter, Janine. Paint brush in hand, she created beautiful, vibrant murals like the Chicago cityscape or a ceiling made of bright puzzle pieces in her children’s and grandson’s rooms.
Wanda had a kind and generous heart. Wanda grew up in challenging circumstances, and never lost perspective of what it was like to struggle. If she could help you, she would. She loved adopting puppies from the pound. Wanda’s favorite Christmas tradition with her children was shopping at Sam’s Club for Christmas gifts for children whose families couldn’t afford to buy presents. Wanda loved to volunteer at work, for non-profits, and especially serving food to the hungry. If Wanda ever won the lottery, she planned to open a vocational center for the homeless. She opened her heart, home and wallet to everyone without hesitation. She had a way of making everyone feel welcome and like she had known you for years. She was the nurse who would go out of her way to provide first responder support at every accident she ever saw. Her generosity was limitless.
Wanda loved to cook and try new recipes. She was widely known for her homemade oatmeal cookies, crepes, cinnamon rolls, and spring rolls with peanut sauce. Wanda was also an expert griller, a talent that she passed on to her beloved son, Jeffrey. In addition to cooking celebratory meals for her family on holidays, Wanda and her sister, Gina, participated in “Chopped” like cooking competitions. Since quitting soda in 2011, Wanda was never seen without an unsweetened iced tea in hand. Despite being an adventurous chef, she refused to eat any sort of beans unless it was a green bean. Recently, she was obsessed with using her Instapot for new recipes.
Wanda was a well-respected hospital administrator, admired for her work ethic and her commitment to her colleagues. At the time of her death, Wanda was Practice Manager at NorthBay Medical Center and oversaw its Occupational Health and Employee Health Services in Fairfield and Vacaville, California. Previously, Wanda served as Occupational Health Nurse Manager at Campbell’s Soup in Sacramento, co-founded an occupational health clinic in Central Illinois, and worked as a nurse at several hospitals. Wherever Wanda worked, the job became more than a job to her. She created lasting relationships, treated everyone she worked with like family, fostered a positive work environment, and mentored countless colleagues.
Wanda earned an Associate Degree in Nursing from Triton College (1979), a B.S.N. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1989), and a certification in Occupational Health Nursing and Applied Ergonomics. Wanda celebrated those who chose to enter the nursing profession and proudly shared with other nurses that she had never been unemployed in her 42 years as a nurse.
Wanda was preceded in death by her mother, Virginia Mae Ellithorpe, mother-in-law, Dorothy Fletcher, and her daughter Jennifer. She is survived by her children Janine Fletcher-Thomas (Tyrone) and Jeffrey Fletcher (Jennifer); her grandchildren, Forrest, Hendrix, Finley, Lincoln, and Malcolm; her siblings, Linda Ellithorpe, Gina Kelsch (Greg) and their children (Katie and Tracy), Brenda Carrillo and her children (Andy, Jeremy, and Jason), and Ted Ellithorpe and his children (Heather and Sarah). She is also survived by her former husband, David Fletcher (Casey), whose family she remained close to through the years, his father, Archie Fletcher (Kathy), his sister Sally Fletcher, and his brother Tommy Fletcher (Cindy) and their children (Abigail and Austin).
There will be a Celebration of Life held in Wanda’s honor on October 5, 2019 at Northbay Health Care Administrative Center (4500 Business Center Dr., Fairfield CA) at 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please make a charitable contribution in memory of Wanda Fletcher to Sacramento Loaves & Fishes (1351 North C St., Sacramento, CA 95811), http://www.sacloaves.org/. Please share this email address with family and friends as you wish, so that we can collect all photos and memories of Wanda for our memory book: RememberingWanda@NorthBay.org