FARMINGTON — Cynthia Burbank Godfrey, a longtime coach at Miss Porter's School, who helped create the Alison Gill Lodge shelter for young women, died on June 25. She was 76.
Cynthia Godfrey was born in 1937 and grew up in Boston.
Her husband of 54 years, Loren Godfrey explained that Cynthia was mainly raised by her grandmother.
"She grew up during the war years. Her dad was a doctor – he was in Japan and he was away for a good portion of the war," said Loren Godfrey. "Her mother had a stroke when Cynthia was quite young, so she was raised by her grandmother."
Godfrey met his wife through mutual friends while he was attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. The couple was married in 1959 in Boston and later had four children: Kim, Loren Jr., Helen, and Neil Godfrey.
"She created a really warm, nice family, but that was her creation, not one that she was used to," explained Godfrey. "She was always very supportive and very sensitive to me and to the children."
The family moved to Farmington in 1978 and Cynthia formed deep roots in her community, volunteering at the Hill-Stead Museum's annual May Market, serving as President of the Farmington Garden Club and the 18 Hole Ladies Group at Farmington Country Club.
In 1989 Cynthia started coaching at Miss Porter's School. For 19 years she coached field hockey, paddle tennis, golf, and lacrosse. Her husband said that she loved the camaraderie of sports and had a strong relationship with the kids, which is what motivated her through the years.
"She loved coaching the students – it was not necessarily about creating a winning team," he said. "She just really enjoyed being with young people. She was a very caring and a very warm person."
In addition to coaching, Godfrey said his wife and her best friend Alison Gill both volunteered at the Gray Lodge in Hartford, a shelter for teen girls, before working to create a second shelter in Manchester.
"Gray Lodge helped young girls until they were 16 – so [Cynthia and Alison] felt it was necessary to have another place for these girls to go," said Godfrey, explaining that the Alison Gill Lodge became a place for the women to turn to. "As a mother of four children, she was very tuned into children and sensitive to the needs of people who could be in a situation like that."
After Alison Gill passed away in 1993, Cynthia honored her by continuing to volunteer at the shelter and in 2006, she co-chaired the Shelter for Women Advisory Council.
"She was a dynamo, just a dynamo, with lots of energy and a wonderful laugh," said Gilda Roncari, former Development Director for the Alison Gill Lodge and Gray Lodge.
Roncari said that Cynthia was always very active with the shelter, which is now part of The Village and serves as a therapeutic home to women between the ages of 14 and 21.
"If you needed her to rally the troops, she'd be out there – everyone rallied around Cynthia, she'd get them all psyched," said Roncari. "She was a very special lady."
In addition to her work with the shelter, Godfrey said his wife enjoyed her 10 grandchildren and taking trips to Montana. "We had many wonderful trips with the kids – a lot of them to a ranch in Montana. Cynthia had been going since she was 14…. It's a place where you can have a lot of freedom."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun