Wendy McCaw was born in Northern California and attended Stanford University where she majored in history. It was at Stanford that she met Craig McCaw and they married in 1974. During their marriage they grew McCaw Communications into McCaw Cellular, eventually selling to AT&T 1994. They divorced several years later. In 2000, she purchased the Santa Barbara News-Press, one of California's oldest newspapers from the New York Times. A staunch defender of wildlife preservation and animal welfare, arguing against whaling operations and a federally funded hunt to kill feral pigs on the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, Mrs. McCaw also helped the return Keiko, the orca star of "Free Willy," to the wild.
In 2005, she was awarded the Genesis Award from the Humane Society of the United States for "Outstanding Newspaper Editorials". The award cited "An unrivalled collection of 44 insightful, timely and reasoned editorials, exploring an array of significant animal issues in need of public attention and effecting change in the process."
Wendy McCaw's commitment to the restoration and preservation of historic architecture is evident throughout Santa Barbara.
The historic Meridian Studios, which feature architectural work with great character from the 1920's by George Washington Smith and later added to by Carleton M. Winslow at East De la Guerra Street, is a cherished group of studios that Mrs. McCaw has owned and maintained with great care. Today the buildings are considered a gem in the El Pueblo Viejo.
On State Street the former I.Magnin building, a testament to contemporary 1940's architecture, was carefully renovated and is now leased to the United States Bankruptcy Court.
The former Automobile Club of Southern California building on Santa Barbara Street was designed in 1931 by the renowned architectural firm of Edwards and Plunkett. This building, which was restored for use as private offices, received the Santa Barbara Beautiful Award in 2000.
Mrs. McCaw is also a founding benefactor of the Granada building restoration project which is an anchor for the historic cultural district and a stunning example of Santa Barbara's history, its architecture and traditions.
She is also a founding contributor to the Santa Barbara Bowl, a premier example of 1930's WPA outdoor Craftsman-style architecture, which received a Santa Barbara Beautiful award in 2004. The Wendy McCaw Terrace at the Bowl has become one of the most appreciated locations to take in spectacular views of Santa Barbara as well as enjoy the performances at the Bowl.
Another George Washington Smith building, and home of the Santa Barbara News-Press, has been respectfully maintained since Mrs. McCaw has owned it. Today she continues to use her resources for the preservation of Santa Barbara landmarks, which include the protection of De la Guerra Plaza.
She enjoys golfing and resides in Santa Barbara with her fiancé, Arthur von Wiesenberger, their cat, two donkeys and Mikey the pit bull puppy adopted in August 2011.
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