The Shandon Congregational Church community remembers Wayne Witt as a granddad who loved kids, the man who shaved his head in solidarity with a friend fighting cancer, and a blood drive leader who once encouraged donations by standing up in front of the congregation wearing a vampire costume.
The annual Shandon Congregational Church blood drive with Community Blood Center is now called the “Wayne Witt Memorial Blood Drive” in his honor. The July 12 blood drive in the Community House, the first without Wayne as coordinator, totaled 40 donors and 35 donations for 117 percent of the collection goal.
Wayne passed away Nov. 27, 2017 after a long battle with liver disease complicated by diabetes. He served as a deacon and trustee at Shandon Congregational Church and helped establish the first blood drive more than 20 years ago.
“He was always just a giving person,” said his wife Carol, whose father Rev. William David was church pastor. Wayne and Carol met at Ross High School, were married 48 years and have three children and eight grandchildren.
“He was always the one open to people,” she said. “If anyone could talk you into doing something, it would be Wayne!”
“If he told you it was a good place to be, they trusted him” said church member Kari Roberts. “He motivated people.”
Carol said Wayne wanted to be remembered with smiles. He proposed a “celebration of life” gathering in the Community House in October, a month before his death. “He was smiling,” said Carol. “But you could see in his face he felt so bad.”
At Wayne’s funeral church sexton Zeline McKee encouraged her daughter Candace McKee-Bewley to follow Wayne as blood drive coordinator. “Wayne was such a big part of our lives,” said Zeline. “We couldn’t let it not go on.”
“I hope I can do a good enough job,” said Candace as she made her seventh lifetime donation in Wayne’s honor. “Wayne met his goal every year!”
Candace encouraged her husband Nick McKee to make his first lifetime donation. “I’m pretty sure I’ll be here this time next year!” he said.
Shandon values its heritage and its leaders. Welsh immigrants established the town in 1801 and the Congregational Church in 1802. They built the Community House in 1825, followed by the church in 1885.
The legacy includes the Wayne Witt Memorial Blood Drive. “He had a strong connection with the people who came to the blood drive,” said Carol. “It was the community.”