Wendy Lee Dansby had survived Stage 4 breast cancer and a car crash that severely injured her leg last year.
Despite all she’d overcome, the 55-year-old Ridgeland woman was found dead in McComb on Tuesday morning of causes that have not been determined.
Her body was found at the McComb home of attorney Robert A. Lenoir, who was arrested Tuesday for allegedly possessing meth and trying to dispose of it while awaiting questioning related to Dansby’s death, according to McComb police detectives.
He remained in jail Thursday afternoon, held on $70,000. Jail officials said they had no updated booking photo available of him.
It’s not clear why Dansby was at Lenoir’s house. Lenoir’s mother, attorney Dee Alford Shandy, had done some legal work for Dansby, including helping her change her name after her divorce.
Dansby’s death has shocked her loved ones, who until this week were happy to see that she had a new lease on life with her cancer in remission and a new house in Ridgeland.
“A warrior, for sure,” Christy Jones Amay of Hattiesburg said.
Amay met Dansby in 2013 through their mutual volunteer work with The Pink Ribbon Fund, a group that raises money to help with breast cancer patients’ medical expenses.
Dansby served on the grant and fundraiser committees for the group, which Amay said was like a second family to her.
Dansby had not worked recently before her death due to her health and a wreck in June 2020 that led to surgeries on her right foot.
“It’s unfair. It is so unfair,” Amay said. “It broke my heart. I couldn’t imagine. (She’s) been through so much — a lot of chemo, a lot of treatments. She had to have surgery, radiation.
“For something like this to happen ...”
Dansby struck up a friendship with artist Joan E. Adams of Shubuta about five years ago after she contacted Adams because she was interested in her art.
“She’d just recently been able to get out and go places. She still had a home healthcare nurse,” Adams said.
“She went through a lot of things all at once. She’s lucky she made it through it. She got new furniture and a new house and was so happy there.”
Dansby’s friends remember her as a deeply religious person. She loved animals, enjoyed photography and was a sharp dresser.
“You never saw her without her hair fixed or nails done or dressed to the nines,” said Brenda Gayle Turner of Petal.
Dansby played the piano and sang at church. She sang on a devotional program on WLBT when she was 4, Turner recalled.
She remembers Dansby as the 14-year-old daughter of the pastor at her church, Woodlawn Baptist Church in Petal, when Turner was 19.
“She was very talented. She could tear a piano up. She was a good singer,” Turner said. “She would ride with me over town, and we would go and look at USM’s live eagle that they had back in those days. Her little brother was with us. We’d get Cokes and hamburgers. There was an old gym that we would go and play basketball on Saturdays. I remember riding on the church bus and her singing.”
Her friends agreed on her kindness and generosity as well.
“It didn’t matter if she was on her deathbed, she would offer to help somebody,” Adams said.
As a result, she created a strong support system of friends around her.
“Her friends are willing to stand up for her and make sure that justice is done,” Adams said of the ongoing investigation into Dansby’s death.
“No matter what, I know where she is, and I know she’s at peace. She is healed,” Amay said.