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Gwendolyn Winseman

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Gwendolyn L. Winseman

1958 - 2012 BENNINGTON, VT Gwen Liisa Wirta Winseman, 53, beloved wife, mother, aunt, daughter, sister, teacher and friend, died peacefully at her home in Bennington on Oct. 26, 2012, surrounded by the love of her husband, Jeff, her children Graham and Erin and her friends, family and neighbors. She had struggled with a brief recurrence of illness.

Gwen was born in San Francisco, Calif., on Dec. 13, 1958, and grew up in a large family of musicians. Gwen's father was Finnish, and this legacy was one of her joys. Prior to settling in New York City, she spent her childhood and teenage years with her sister and four brothers in Berkeley, Middlebury, England, and Boston. She studied literature, anthropology and French, graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981 and going on to receive two graduate degrees in the years following. She loved her life. From daily work to long term life projects, Gwen found meaning and delight in almost all she did.

Countless families and children knew Gwen; one of her highest privileges was to spend time teaching and being with children. As a musician and as a social worker, she performed, taught and helped families and children in New York City, Buffalo, White Plains and Bennington. Gwen loved and cared for each of her many piano students and was a strong advocate for education in Bennington, not only for her own children, but for the community. She served on the full time social work staff at Catholic Charities in Buffalo and United Counseling Services in Bennington, accompanied the Bennington Children's Chorus, taught Middle School music at Hiland Hall School, and had recently accompanied the Mount Anthony Union High School Chorus. Among her favorite yearly events were the MAU Pops Concert and the British Invasion. Guiding and participating in her children's and her nephew Arno's educational, musical and artistic paths was central to Gwen's life. Gwen's devotion to others was felt most deeply by her husband and her children, Graham and Erin. She took part in almost every aspect, sustaining, supporting and loving them through the peaks and challenges in their lives. Gwen made everything better. Gwen's musical achievements include performances at the Aspen Music Festival and the Waterloo Music Festival, performances with The New York Choral Society, accompanying choral work written and conducted by Ned Rorem at the Aspen Music Festival, serving as staff accompanist for The School for Strings in New York City, and many local performances over the years in Bennington. Gwen will be deeply missed by many.

In addition to Jeff, Graham and Erin, she is survived by her nephew Arno Wirta of Houlton, Maine, her mother, Frances Jenkins Wirta of Brighton, Mass., her sister Bronwen Wirta and brother-in-law Michael Hester of Maynard, Mass., her brother Morgan Wirta of Phoenix, AZ, her brother Dylan and niece Arwen Wirta of Taos, New Mexico, her mother-in-law, Nancy Winseman, and brother-in-law Dr. Albert Winseman and his wife, Jane Winseman, of Lincoln, Nebraska, her nieces, Julie Wagner and Kaleigh Winseman of Omaha, Nebraska, her aunt, Marilou Taggart of Denver, Colorado, her cherished dog, Toivo, and many dear friends and neighbors.

She was predeceased by her father and her most beloved brothers Evan and Lewis.

FUNERAL NOTICE: A celebration of Gwen's life will take place at the Second Congregational Church, 115 Hillside Street, Bennington, VT on Sunday, Nov 4, 2012, at 2 p.m.

Donations in memory of Gwen may be given to the Bayada Hospice of Bennington County, and to the Scholarship fund at the Bennington Early Childhood Center. To send the family personal email condolences. Please visit www.sheafuneralhomes.com.

The family has entrusted arrangements to the care of HANSON-WALBRIDGE & SHEA FUNERAL HOME, Bennington, VT.


Published in Bennington Banner on Oct. 30, 2012
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