Wendi Harris Kaufman, a well-known and beloved author who created and nurtured many facets of the DC literary community, died last night at her Northern Virginia home. Kaufman lost a long battle with cancer, her husband texted a few close friends with the news.
Kaufman’s career as a writer had deep roots in this area. She received her MFA from George Mason University, where she met and began working for critic Alan Cheuse’s NPR show The Sound of Writing. On that staff was another young GMU MFA graduate, Dallas Hudgens of Falls Church and publisher of Relegation Books and its university offshoot, GMU’s MFA-driven Stillhouse Press. “Wendi wanted to start a writing group and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. Along with three other friends, we’ve been meeting regularly—and with many laughs—for 20 years,” said Hudgens by telephone this morning.
Hudgens noted that Wendi truly “created a community in this area. She was such a good friend to everyone, a giving friend, one who could be an adviser, a protector, and a spark simultaneously.”
This year, Hudgens had the opportunity to give back to Wendi Kaufman: The newly founded Stillhouse Press will release Kaufman’s Helen on 86th Street and Other Stories. “In her writing,” says Hudgens, “I saw the same caring spirit that Wendi shared with her fellow writers, focused on her characters. Her compassion and humor shone in her life and writing.”
The September 13 GMU launch event for Stillhouse Press is one that “we really want to be a celebration of Wendy’s life and her work,” Hudgens emphasizes. The book is available for pre-order.
David Kaufman, Wendi’s husband, and her family ask that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Life With Cancer.