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Cynthia Ann Bognolo

Published: 8/1/2020 3:00:21 AM
Modified: 8/1/2020 3:00:17 AM

LYME, NH — Cynthia Ann (Cook) Bognolo, passed away peacefully on Monday July 27, 2020 at her beloved home in Lyme, NH with her daughters at her side, and with her house full of the sounds of her grandchildren, and the Red Sox game.

Cynthia was born September 16, 1939 in Southampton, NY, the daughter of Edward Fowler Cook and Marion Elizabeth (Schellinger) Cook. Cynthia spent her childhood in Springs NY, a village of Easthampton. Cynthia was always deeply proud of her family’s heritage in the area: the Schellinger family arrived in the Hamptons in the mid-17th century, and were one of the original settling families of Amagansett village. She received her Bachelor’s degree in 1961 in French from Albright College in Reading, PA, and earned a Master’s Degree in English from Johns Hopkins University in 1962. After teaching French in Baltimore city and county schools,

Cynthia traveled overseas. She visited post-war London, Paris, where she received a certificate from the Sorbonne, and ended up in Italy to visit her sister Sally.

Cynthia lived in Rome and worked in the Biochemistry Institute laboratory at La Sapienza (the University of Rome), under famous molecular biologist Dr. Jeffries Wyman. Cynthia’s duties included removing blood from worms found only in the Bay of Naples. She then returned to teaching, as an English teacher, at the American Overseas School of Rome.

While working at La Sapienza, Cynthia met her future husband, Dr. Diego A. Bognolo. They married in July of 1967, and lived in Trastevere (Rome) for several years before moving to Hanover NH, where Diego completed his residency at Mary Hitchcock. It was at this time that

Cynthia finally had the opportunity to study Latin at Dartmouth College (although her fascination with the classical world began during her time living in Rome). Very soon after beginning her study of Latin, Cynthia began teaching Latin at Hanover High School- she often remarked that she was only a day ahead of her students!

Cynthia taught Latin at Hanover High School for the duration of her career, retiring in the early 2000s. Cynthia was the cornerstone and charismatic leader of Hanover’s exceptionally popular high school Latin program. She single-handedly organized, planned, and led countless student (3 weeks with 15-20 teenagers) tours of Italy as well as arranging home stays in Rome, and she consistently organized in-class celebrations of Roman holidays “recreating Saturnalia amidst the desks and hormones of public schools” and closer-to-home trips to top museums in Boston and beyond for all of her students. Cynthia’s generosity with her attention and care extended to students others rarely noticed, and yet her care did not preclude being “dressed down expertly” or “benched like a coach with ‘that stare’” should she detect one ounce of self-pity. As a teacher, but also as a mother and a friend, Cynthia practiced tough love and she listened. She had an endless love for people, places, and stories.

Cynthia bought a farmhouse in Lyme in the 1970s, and spent the next forty years loving being a part of the Lyme community: she treasured her membership in the Lyme Center Baptist Church, the Lyme Historical Society, and LOVED town meeting. She equally enjoyed spending time in her gardens, with her chickens, and socializing with family and friends. Amidst all this, she frequently traveled to Italy to visit her sister Sally and nieces Giovanna and Marianna in Florence, and her daughter Anna in London, Rome and Deerfield, MA. Additionally she would travel to Virginia to see daughter Kate and her family, and loved returning to her childhood home in Long Island; her whole life she subscribed to the Easthampton Star , and her connection to Springs remained strong.

How do we begin to list her passions? Cynthia loved to listen to (Red Sox) baseball on the radio; and otherwise invariably had VPR classical music playing on that same radio; Cynthia loved reading the New Yorker, though it was such work to keep up! She loved sight-reading Latin for fun; she collected everything and threw out nothing; she loved cooking and cookies; if Cynthia could cook with vegetables from her own garden, all the more the pleasure for her; she loved the skills of the people she cared about, and she loved when people helped her; she was

adamant about sharing her passions with her family, students, and friends.

Cynthia leaves her daughters Anna Bognolo (Ramesh Rajballie) of Greenfield, MA; and Katie Bognolo-Valentine (Eric Valentine) of Falls Church, VA; beloved grandchildren Vittoria, Isabella, and Eric Valentine, and Claudia and Max Rajballie; sister Sally Cook-Perra and daughters Giovanna and Marianna of Florence Italy; stepbrothers Floyd (Corky) Diefendorf of Shelter Island, NY and Peter Diefendorf of Ocean Isle Beach, NC and their daughters and their children. Cynthia also leaves behind many dear friends and students whose lives she impacted in

countless ways.

A graveside service will be held Monday August 3rd, 2020 at 10 AM at the Highland Cemetery in Lyme, NH. Those wishing to attend are asked to wear a mask and maintain distance. An additional service will be held at Cynthia’s family plot in Amagansett, NY at a later date.

Cynthia’s daughters are planning a celebration of her amazing life in the summer of 2021, and we encourage all those touched by Cynthia’s spirit to join them in that celebration.

The family wishes to recognize the wonderful work of Bayada Hospice who made it possible for Cynthia to return to her beloved home so that she could spend her last days exactly as she wanted.

Condolences may be made in the online guestbook at

Contributions in her memory may be made to the Vergilian Society or the Lyme Historians.

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