A lot of people have very deep rooted connections to this town, but I don’t. My family isn’t from here or anywhere in Rhode Island. I only moved to Little Compton a year and a half ago and didn’t know anyone. One of the first people that we met was Wendy Zens. She was our neighbor and when we first moved here she treated us really great and welcomed us to the neighborhood. Here is Wendy’s story…
Wendy Zens was born in 1947, in Brownsville Pennsylvania to John Kellam and Carol Zens. She is the youngest of two children, her older sister being two years older than her. Wendy grew up in Providence where she had to ride her bike three miles to grade school. She later took the bus during her high school years.
When she was younger Wendy had cats and she loved to dance. She dreamed of one day being a ballet dancer and danced for eleven years.
Wendy is a retired nurse and worked first in a hospital helping to deliver babies. Then she managed a surgery unit. Before nursing school she was a bank teller and had worked for a college paper.
One of Wendy’s biggest influences in her life was Shirly Chisholm because of her determination and character. Shirley Chisholm was a black Congresswoman who ran for president of the United States in 1972. She was smart, honest, and determined to work for the equality of women and for people of color in America. Wendy volunteered to work on her campaign and went to the national democratic convention in Florida with her delegation.
One of Wendy’s hobbies is that she likes to go to court and observe medical cases being tried. She also loves to read lots of books and articles. Another hobby of hers is working on her family tree and studying genealogy. Some of the places her ancestors are from are Northern Ireland, Denington England, Ontario Canada, Rhineland Germany, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Massachusetts. She has even researched one branch of her family tree back 15 generations.
Wendy has done a lot in her life, but she’s always wanted to see the Grand Canyon. She has two wonderful children, a son and daughter. She has an amazing husband, Ken and a dog and two cats. Of everything in her life, she’s most proud of her two children and the kind people that they are.
The first time Wendy was brought to Little Compton was for a getaway. Her mother and family were invited by a friend of her mothers. The natural beauty and the entire south coast area has kept her coming back since 1954. One of her favorite memories of Little Compton was when her mother rented a cabana on Briggs Beach one summer. Another favorite place in Little Compton is Lloyds beach on Sakonnet point! Wendy knows someone whose grandfather was the lighthouse keeper of Sakonnet Point Lighthouse in 1938. He actually was there during the 1938 hurricane, stayed out there for three days during the storm, and survived the whole thing!
Above all, and my favorite story of hers, was that her favorite place is the Quaker Meeting House graveyard because there is the grave of a woman whose parents arrived here on the Mayflower before she was even born.
In conclusion, Wendy is an important person to me and to Little Compton. She shared with me, “I love Little Compton because it’s quiet, and kind. There’s a sense of community here and a way of life that seems from some time long ago.” Wendy reminds me of all of this. When we came here we knew no one, and now Wendy is more than a neighbor, she’s like family, and that’s what Little Compton is all about.
Based on an interview with Wendy Zens, April 2020.
Written by: Lucas Roberts, Grade 5 – Wilbur & McMahon School