Cynthia Ainsworth Longtime San Francisco resident, Cynthia Ainsworth, died at home on July 28 of complications from ovarian cancer. Born in 1936 in Moline, IL, Cynthia graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in economics. After completing the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration and a short stint at Merrill Lynch in New York, Cynthia came to San Francisco in 1959 and joined the local investment office of Wood, Struthers and Winthrop, beginning her lifelong love affair with the stock market. In 1965 she was invited to join Eugene Heckathorn and Associates, a business "fix-it" entrepreneur in the East Bay. Under the mentorship of Heckathorn, Cynthia was thrust into the operational turmoil of several small businesses. She essentially became the COO of "Pie Pops," a small independent baker of unique snack offerings in San Jose; then the consultant-on-staff for a grain operation run by a religious order near Portland, OR. Her last professional role was for Vesper Society, a Lutheran support organization founded by Heckathorn, and the owner of Vesper Memorial Hospital In San Leandro. Cynthia served as administrator of that hospital until her retirement in 1984. After retiring Cynthia turned to her first love - the land and its bounty. Having declared as a child that she would one day be a farmer, she transformed those early yearnings by becoming an active volunteer at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. She delighted in the work and continued with it as long as her health permitted. She loved to travel, and whether it was hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, ballooning over France, or riding a camel in Egypt, she was an enthusiastic participant. Her ambitious plan to visit all 50 states fell short by only three. In 1970 Cynthia built a vacation house at Sea Ranch and over the years she welcomed many friends to that beautiful place. More recently, she divided her time between homes in San Francisco and Palm Springs. Cynthia is survived by her brother Gordon, his wife Katie, their two daughters, Jennifer and Sarah, and a grandniece Lauren, all of Moline; her long-time partner Carolee Houser; her godson Jacques Hymans; innumerable cousins; and a host of friends. Cynthia's calm presence and gentle nature will be missed by all who knew her. A memorial gathering for family and close friends is being planned. Those wishing to further remember Cynthia are urged to consider gifts to the San Francisco Botanical Garden, the Trust for Public Land, or San Francisco Beautiful.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Aug. 3, 2008.