AMHERST - Winifred D. "Windy" Sayer of Amherst, died Sunday, July 20, 2014, in Sunderland, at the age of 101, surrounded by family.
Born in Whitstable, Kent, England, Windy spent her first 10 years in Brooklyn, New York, where she began her love of gardening and dance at an early age.
She moved to Bermuda in 1923, with her father and beloved mother and sister, six years her senior. Windy explored the island as a Girl Guide and as a novice sailor – building a sailboat and sailing on her own around the island throughout her girlhood.
In the early 1930's, Windy received a scholarship, as an exemplary Girl Guide, from Helen Storrow of Boston, to attend Cornell University. There, she studied landscape design and met her husband Albert H. Sayer. After graduating in 1937, Windy bicycled around England, and then worked as part of the nascent America Youth Hostels movement in Northfield, before returning to Ithaca. She and Albert were married in 1940 at Cornell, and moved to Amherst where Al was an instructor at the Massachusetts Agricultural College (University of Massachusetts). Their son Stephen was born in 1942 and their daughter Mary was born two years later in 1944. Shortly thereafter, Al died serving in the South Pacific as a Captain in the Army in World War II.
Windy spent the rest of her life in Amherst, traveling to England, Greece, Scandinavia, and Australia, during her lifetime. She worked as a lab assistant researching monarch butterflies at Amherst College during the 1950's and then as a librarian at the Jones Library where she became the first curator of the Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost Collections.
Family, dancing and gardening were central parts of Windy's life. Two of her favorite phrases were, "trees are the answer" and, "I'd rather be dancing." Windy was known for her beautiful woodland garden and for the plants she would leave for her neighbors to take and enjoy. Every year from 1960 to 2012, Windy spent her summers folk dancing and exploring the woods of Maine at the Mainewoods Dance Camp, a cherished place full of friends, dance and nature. Cornell also remained an important place throughout her life and she attended reunions regularly to see friends and share fond memories. Windy was an active member of the First Congregational Church in Amherst, a place that gave her much laughter, friendship and peace throughout her life.
Windy lived life as an exploration, with humor and compassion. She was quick to research something and share her research when she thought she could help and she always had an interesting story to share about her latest adventure.
She will be greatly missed by her family, Mary Sayer, Stephen Sayer, her two granddaughters, Anna Coldham and Leah Coldham, and her son-in-law Bruce Coldham.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Oct. 18, at the First Congregational Church, Amherst.
Donations, in lieu of flowers, can be made to Wildwood Cemetery, 70 Strong St., Amherst, MA 01002, for the Albert and Winifred Sayer Memorial Fund, to support indigenous plants in Wildwood Cemetery.
Obituary and memorial register at www.douglassfuneral.com.
To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories and read other obituaries, go to www.gazettenet.com/obituaries.
Douglass Funeral Home
87 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on July 24, 2014