BOCA RATON, FLA. — Calvin Wendy, who for many years worked quietly behind the scenes as a friendly but forceful presence in the show promotion firm Westchester Enterprises, died on July 7 after a brief illness.
Well known to the many antiques dealers who participated in the Wendy shows over several decades, he was the husband of retired show manager Diane Wendy and the father of Meg Wendy Geslin, founder of the online art and antiques forum NewFocusOn.com and co-producer of the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair. Cal Wendy was 86.
Childhood sweethearts, Cal and Diane met almost 70 years ago and would have celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary in December. In a 2007 interview with Antiques and The Arts Weekly, Diane recalled meeting her husband soon after her widowed mother moved from Buffalo, N.Y., to the Bronx to be near family.
“I went to the movies with a girlfriend and this red-headed guy in the seat in front of me kept asking for the time. I was about 14. I charged him a penny each time he asked. We spoke daily after that and married when I finished high school,” Diane said.
Cal Wendy was what used to be called a “sport.” As a very young man, he hustled pool, bet on horses and was a regular in the bowling alley. Cal was an avid golfer who, after the couple retired from Westchester County, N.Y., to South Florida, hit the links nearly every day.
An entrepreneur and self-made man, he owned a successful heating and air-conditioning wholesale business for 50 years. In 1968, he helped his wife acquire the Nuttall shows, where she began her career in 1959, from her former employer, Clifford J. Nuttall. The franchise included such major events as the Eastern States Antiques Fair in White Plains, N.Y., and the New York Coliseum Antiques Fair. The flagship of the Wendy fairs were the Park Avenue Armory Antiques Shows, which the family operated for 30 years.
“Clifford J. Nuttall created the show business in the United States in 1934 but he wouldn’t sell his franchise to a woman, which is why my father bought the business and became its president,” Meg Wendy recalled. “People remember him as the behind-the-scenes guy but he was very much in charge of the operation.”
On opening night at the Newport Antiques Show on June 24, several former Wendy exhibitors remembered Cal Wendy with affection. “He made his way around the floor, spoke to you and was genuinely interested to know how you were doing. Cal and Diane were unusually generous and supportive of their dealers,” said Jim Gallagher and Ruth Zager. “There was a time when I did every last one of their shows and always did well,” noted Zane Moss.
“My father was a humble, happy person who lived a wonderful life,” said Meg Wendy.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Cal is survived by his son-in-law, Guy Geslin, and his grandsons, Matt and Chris. Services were July 10 in New York City. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Sala Institute for Child & Family Centered Care at New York University Medical Center.