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« Obituaries | Cynthia Ann Watkins Richardson Melendy Ph.D.

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Cynthia Ann Watkins Richardson Melendy Ph.D.

Date of Death: April 17, 2020

Date of Birth: July 27, 1950


LEWISTON, ME – At the age of 69, Cynthia (Cindy) Melendy left this world to be with The Lord and fly with the birds she so loved. Cynthia was born in Boston, MA, July 27, 1950 to Dr. Arthur L. Watkins and Gwendolyn Mason Watkins, the youngest of five children. Her childhood was filled with music, poetry and summers with the family at the summer home on Chochorua Lake, overlooking Mt. Chocorua in New Hampshire. There began her love of hiking, swimming and her lifetime concern and dedication to the environment. As a child she attended the Walnut Hill School in Natick, MA and went undergraduate school at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude in American Literature at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

When Cynthia moved to Maine, she met and married James Richardson where they shared a passion for gardening, birding, hiking, beekeeping and raising Springer Spaniels; always named for fruit such as Kiwi and Tangerine. The gardens were full of abundance with every vegetable that could grow in Maine. The flower gardens were a place of color, variety, food for the bees and a hiding place for her beloved Persian cats. Each year honey was gathered, vegetables canned and maple trees tapped for making syrup. Cynthia loved entertaining and cooking, and many evenings were spent playing Scrabble with friends while listening to music or just knitting and talking about world events. Cynthia worked for the Maine Audubon Society, combining her love of the environment with her skill and knowledge in philanthropy and development. She received her Master Gardener certification and passed her knowledge on to many budding gardeners.

Cynthia always wanted to be a mother and on November 24, 1987, Stewart was born and a new life chapter began with focus on raising Stewart and introducing him to a love for the world around him. Dan Hole Pond in New Hampshire became the summer destination for the family with hiking, swimming, canoeing and watching the dozens of hummingbirds swoop and dive outside the porch.

The next chapter began with receiving her Master of Arts Degree in American & New England Studies from the University of Southern Maine and then moving to Orono, Maine where in 2002 she received her Ph.D in History with Honors. Her Dissertation: “Picturing Nature: Education, Ornithology, Writing and Photography in the Life of Cordelia Stanwood of Ellsworth, ME” was the first of her extensive writings, papers and presentations as a Doctor of History. She moved to Florida and then Texas where she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at University of South Florida and Texas Tech University. Homesick for New England and family, she returned to New Hampshire and bought an old farmhouse which she began renovating with help from her son Stewart and her Shih Tzu Lucy, who became her constant companion. She continued teaching at Farmington State University and Adjunct Faculty at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Her awards, fellowships and writings are too numerous to list here. Her mastery of the written word was extraordinary.

Upon retiring from teaching, Cynthia continued her writing with a monthly series on the history of Art in the Mount Washington Valley. Sadly, Cynthia suffered a stroke in 2016 which resulted in a permanent move to the Marshwood Rehabilitation Center in Lewiston, Maine. Although unable to continue her prolific research, writing and reading, she amazed the staff with her whit and ability to answer the most obscure trivia questions. During walks to the garden, she would educate her caregivers about the birds they would see and amaze them with her ability to identify the birds with just a few notes of their songs. Her son Stewart says that now she can fly with the birds she so loves and will be looking over us.

Cynthia is predeceased by her mother and father, and her sister Linda Watkins Waring. She is survived by her son Stewart, his wife Danielle Brown, their children Spencer Jacob (4 years old) and Willow Brooke (2 years old), James Richardson, Stewart’s father, her brother John Watkins and his wife Mary Ellen, her brother Robert Watkins and his wife Joan Catherine, her sister Nancy Watkins and Nancy’s husband Wayne Ghirardini, and her brother in law, Kurt Waring. Also surviving her are 10 nieces and nephews, and their children. Her dear Lucy has found a home with a loving lady in need of companionship. Throughout her life, Cynthia had many friends from various walks of life, all have something in common, they all learned to love nature through her, and will miss her dearly.

We would like to send a special Thank You to the incredible caregivers at Marshwood. You made the last chapter of her life happy and full.

A private service will be held as circumstances allow us to gather.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift in her name to your local Animal Shelter or to:

Maine Audubon Society

1 Gilsland Farm

Falmouth, ME 04105

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