Robert Heinlein’s famous quote is apropos:
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.”
Cynthia could do all those things and more – she could literally create community, bathe others in a magical radiated love and calm, and bring out happiness and contentment in everyone around her. She had a unique talent of disarming people and putting them at ease: “People tell me everything.” And they did. And she always kept their confidences. She was a diverse, talented, and eclectic person with loves and interests that included American Indian history, British murder mysteries, Great Pyrs, pizza, baking, herbs, tomatoes, ravens, palindromes, and signs and portent.
Cynthia had a deep reverence for nature, and also had a deep spiritual connection with nature. To her, Nature, in all of its magnificence and mayhem, was an expression of God and the cosmos. Cynthia had a knack for finding tree spirits in the wild, and would continually communicate with plant spirits and the animals that would cross her path. Her love for nature was nearly matched by her disdain for injustice, intolerance, cilantro, pineapple on pizza, mayonnaise, and small talk.
She will always be remembered for her boundless kindness for others, her ability to do anything she set her mind to, and her ability to see the good in others, even (perhaps especially) when they didn’t see it themselves. She had the gift of believing in everyone more than they believed in themselves, and she had the power to unlock their potential.
Her daughter, Elizabeth Walsh, remembers, “When I was a child she first introduced me to meditation through Quaker meeting. She showed me the importance of quietude, for it is in the silence that your soul speaks. I was in my early teens when she introduced me to Qigong as a form of energy working. She taught me about the power of the mind to overcome physical challenges and how to align your body and mind.” It is this alignment that kept her going through the cancer battle that, by all accounts, should have taken her from us long before it did.
In her professional life, she was a paramedic/EMT, a COO, a CFO, an accomplished musician and visual artist, a photographer, a skilled coder and developer, a published poet, and a teacher. She could wire a house, run finances, bake bread, sew clothing, grow and can vegetables, dig gardens, save lives. “I’m not unfocused, I’m multifaceted.”
Her husband, Stuart Yaniger, recounts, “In our real life, I was a restless and itinerant person, which suits my profession. But we came to a point where we wanted to stop moving, find a place that suited us, and live our life the way we built it, very self-contained and centered on each other, in a wonderful and supportive community. And we found it, back in Alfred where she started. We knew that we’d live the rest of our life here, and in the end we did. Cynthia figured out how to pull it off and she made it happen with sheer will and determination.”
Cynthia is survived by her loving husband, Stuart Yaniger and daughter Elizabeth Walsh, both of Alfred, NY, her son Joseph Gray of Salamanca, NY, her second mother Virginia Wenslow, brothers Richard Wenslow and Frank Wenslow and Eric Adams and sister Valerie Steadman of Wellsville, NY, brother Michael Wenslow of Los Angeles, CA, and sister Amy Wenslow of Pasadena, CA. Her parents, James and Anne Wenslow, sister Susan Wenslow, and brother Dale Adams preceded her in death.
She wanted you to know that her last words were, “I have information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of Hillary Clinton.”
Cynthia’s Celebration of Life will be held at the Terra Cotta Coffee House beginning at 1pm on July 30th 2022. It is open to the public. All are welcome to attend. Food and drinks will be provided. Please consider memorial donations to the Arbor Day Foundation, 211 N. 12th Street, Lincoln, NE 68508, or to the Alfred Fire Department, 4 South Main Street, Alfred, NY 14802. To leave online condolences please visit www.embserfuneralhome.com.