Cynthia A. Ryder

Cynthia Ann (Palmer) Ryder, 87, of Winchester passed away on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, with family at her side. She remained fully involved with her family, friends and community until the very end.

Cyndy was born to Boyd B. Palmer and Rachel Akers Palmer in Santurce, Puerto Rico, on June 24, 1932. She remained proud of her Puerto Rican roots and often visited her childhood home in San German.

Cyndy attended the Northfield School for Girls (1950), an early connection to this corner of New England. She graduated from Mt. Holyoke College (1954) and earned an Master of Science from the Yale School of Public Health (1956). Despite requesting an internship in South America, Cyndy was placed with the Quincy, Mass., Health Department. Brooks Ryder served as the health officer at the time. Brooks soon left to direct the Haile Selassie Public Health College in Ethiopia, and from there he wrote to Cyndy to propose. They were married in Paris in 1957.

For the next 10 years, Brooks continued his public health work with governments across Africa; in each country, Cyndy volunteered with public health and community projects. Their daughters were born in Ethiopia (Ann, Priscilla), Mali (Penny), and Burkina Faso (Phyllis). They were evacuated from Egypt during the Six Day War. The family then lived in Indonesia for nine years before returning to Winchester.

Cyndy advocated for health and equality in every part of her community. She served on the boards of Planned Parenthood of New England; Home Health Care, Hospice and Community Services; and the Tobacco-Free Coalition, among others. She was a fixture at Winchester Town Meetings, where she spoke with great conviction. Working on the Winchester Star ignited long-lasting friendships. She was a founding mother of the Winchester Learning Center. A former member of the Winchester School Board, she remained active with Community and Schools Together. Throughout, she was a beloved and devoted leader at the United Church of Winchester. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen named her the N.H. Volunteer of the Year in 1996.

Known for her warm, gracious hospitality, Cyndy connected friends across oceans and decades. She loved to garden and created beautiful flower arrangements. She supported people individually and collectively. She seemed to understand what each person needed; if she couldn’t provide it herself, she called someone else to get it done.

Cyndy leaves her children, Ann Ryder of Branford, Conn., Priscilla Ryder of Maynard, Mass., Penny Ryder Vaine (Jeff) of Winchester and Phyllis Mentzell Ryder (Eric) of Takoma Park, Md.; grandchildren, Ken Burdett, Emily Burdett, Martin Ryder, Amanda Vaine, Laura Collins (Mike) Marie Vaine, Jacob Ryder and Alex Mentzell; and three great-grandchildren. In addition, she leaves her sister-in-law, Marie Riley of North Attleboro, Mass.; cousins, Jane Akers Stallman and Judy Akers. In addition she is survived by many beloved nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held on Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. at her home, 90 Pudding Hill Road, Winchester.

In her memory, she would be grateful if you would enjoy a day in a garden, write a letter to the editor, or pray for peace. And remember: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

In lieu of flowers, Cyndy requested donations to the United Church of Winchester, 97 Main St., Winchester, NH 03470; Planned Parenthood of New England, 784 Hercules Drive, Suite 110, Colchester, VT 05446; or a globally focused peace/justice organization of your choice.

All services are under the care of Cheshire Family Funeral Home and Crematories, 46 South Winchester St., Swanzey (www.cheshirefamilyfh.com).