JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A day after he took a leave of absence to be with his wife who was battling stage four breast cancer, A-State Head Coach Blake Anderson announced Tuesday his “beautiful girl” had died.
In an early morning tweet, Anderson said his wife Wendy had “no more pain, no more suffering, and praise Him, no more cancer.”
Last fall, Anderson announced his wife had been diagnosed with stage 4, grade 3 triple negative breast cancer which had metastasized in the lymph nodes, liver, and the lungs.
Arkansas State Athletics posted on their Facebook page the plans for Wendy Anderson’s memorial service Tuesday afternoon.
A memorial service will be held Friday, Aug. 23 at 11 a.m. at Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro. It will be streamed online by Central Baptist Church and will be available at a later time on their website.
The post said there will not be a visitation or viewing period.
Anderson will be laid to rest in Hubbard, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made in her name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
People from all around the country joined A-State football and Red Wolves fans in showing their support and offering their prayers for the Anderson family.
At that time, Anderson said: “We’re going to roll. She fights as tough as anybody. We’re going to go to work.”
Anderson reported in February that Wendy was “tired but doing well” following her last radiation treatment.
“Now we wait and pray,” he stated.
In his celebration of her life, Anderson said Wendy had been by his side for 27 years.
That was true even as she battled cancer.
In April, as the Red Wolves scrimmaged, she sat on the sidelines cheering them and her husband on.
Players stepped away from the field long enough to give her a hug, as seen in this video posted by Scott Conley, assistant athletic director of football operations at A-State.
This summer, things seemed to be looking up for the couple.
“Decreases in tumors from 25% to as much as 75% in some areas of lungs, liver, and lymph nodes,” Anderson tweeted.
But, he cautioned that the fight was far from over, and asked for continued prayers and support.
However, by August, there was an inkling that things were not turning out as hoped.
On Monday, the Arkansas State Athletics Department announced that Anderson would take a leave of absence to be with his wife.
Following Monday’s announcement, the A-State library was flooded in pink—symbolizing breast cancer awareness—to honor the Andersons.
Little did anyone know, after a long arduous fight, Wendy Anderson would succumb to cancer.
Just after 5 a.m. Tuesday, Anderson tweeted his “beautiful girl has gone home to be with Jesus.”
He said his wife of 26 years “passed as peacefully and gracefully as you could ever hope just a few minutes before midnight with me laying beside her.”
Anderson thanked those who prayed and loved her through her “brutal two-year battle.”
He concluded by saying “She hurts no more, and is in His presence now and forever.”
Within minutes of Anderson announcing his wife’s passing, condolences began pouring in from across the state and the world, from A-State fans and rivals alike.
State Senator John Cooper (R-District 21), who represents Craighead County released this statement Tuesday in response to Wendy Anderson’s death:
U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton took to Twitter to express their condolences for the family’s loss.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson tweeting his condolences Tuesday morning as well.
Current and former Red Wolves players and coaches also took to social media to share their love and stories of the woman they knew as “Mama Wendy.”
Many players telling Region 8 they did their best to get through practice Tuesday. One being Tajhea Chambers, a senior Line Backer who has actually known the Andersons for six years. Coach Anderson recruited him in Carolina.
“Every time she’s up here, she’s got a smile on her face. She’ll talk your head off... that’s what I will miss about her. She’s always in good spirit,” Chambers said.
In addition to offering his condolences, A-State Chancellor Kelly Damphousse posted on Twitter Tuesday that to honor “the victory of her faith,” the library clock tower would be lit in red just as it is following every A-State victory.
Along with Chancellor Damphousse, ASU System President Charles L. Welch released a statement on Anderson’s death:
Arkansas State Athletics stated that the department was saddened to learn of Anderson’s death, adding that her “courageous battle with cancer will continue to serve as an inspiration.”
The flag at Arkansas State was lowered at half staff and will remain there until after her memorial services next week. The Dean B. Ellis Library clock tower at will be lighted scarlet on Tuesday evening in memory of Wendy Anderson. Scarlet is the university’s victory signal and believes her life was “a victory in countless ways.”