Wendy Lea Fiedler, a political activist who headed Howard County's Democratic Central Committee and was a secretary in the county state's attorney's office, died of complications from ovarian cancer Monday at her Ellicott City home. She was 53.
"I never knew Wendy until I was elected. She was a wonderful, sweet person," Howard County Executive James N. Robey said yesterday.
First elected to the central committee in 1994, she had served as its chairwoman since 1998, when Mr. Robey won election.
Born Wendy Lea Ammann in Olney, she was a 1970 graduate of Sherwood High School and participated in student government there.
In 1972, she married Jon L. Fiedler, now a lieutenant firefighter-paramedic for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services. While raising a family, she became a Tupperware sales agent and manager, and then a sales trainer for her distributor.
In the late 1980s, she returned to school and earned an associate's degree in paralegal studies with honors from what was then Dundalk Community College.
Family members said she became active in Democratic politics during the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign, and met Bill Clinton when he visited Howard County. "She had her picture taken with him and was on cloud nine," her husband said.
After the election, she joined Democratic Women of Howard County and later became its president. She became a paralegal at Dackman, Heyman Associates, a Baltimore law firm, while running for the central committee in 1994.
She also worked statewide for her party and was named a special assistant for community affairs during Gov. Parris N. Glendening's second term of office.
In 2003, she took a job with the county state's attorney's office and served as grand jury secretary. She was later secretary and special assistant to Deputy State's Attorney Mike Weal.
Party Vice Chairman Tony McGuffin, who took over most of her party duties in recent weeks, said that despite her illness, "she chaired a party weekly meeting ... for 2 1/2 hours" last Wednesday.
"It was her show," Mr. McGuffin said, and she conducted the meeting "with great energy and vigor."
"She was very dedicated to the philosophy and ideals of the Democratic Party, and she knew who she was and where she wanted to take the party. And she didn't see being liberal as a dirty word, but rather a badge of honor," said Melody J. Higgins, secretary of the county Democratic Party and past president of the Columbia Democratic Club.
A fan of Walt Disney, she and her husband made 19 visits to Walt Disney World in Florida. She also enjoyed making scrapbooks.
She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2003 and later suffered a stroke.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Donaldson Funeral Home, 313 Talbott Ave., Laurel.
In addition to her husband, survivors include a son, Jon L. Fiedler II of Chantilly, Va.; a brother, William "Hal" Ammann of Burtonsville; her mother, June Wootten Moldowski of Burtonsville; and her father and stepmother, William S. and Mildred Ammann of Laurel.
Sun reporters Larry Carson and Frederick N. Rasmussen contributed to this article.