Cynthia Trenshaw: 1942–2024

Cynthia Trenshaw, 81, died February 19, 2024, after a series of escalating medical adventures. She was surrounded by friends and family, caring for her as she had cared for so many in her lifetime of service.

Cynthia grew up in Indiana and Michigan. In her freshman year at Hillsdale College, she married Joseph Trenshaw. By the time she was 22 they had three children: Tom, Katheryn, and Michael.

She spent the next twenty years raising children and running a small business with Joe. During one devastating year, their son Tom was killed by gunfire at age 13, the family home was gutted by fire, and Joe had a heart attack.

Cynthia, widowed at age 51, intensified her lifelong spiritual search, earning a Master’s in Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.

She has served as hospital chaplain, massage practitioner for people on the streets, in-home caregiver, midwife to the dying, Professional Guardian, Guardian ad Litem, and teacher about medical advocacy and the writing of Advance Directives.

Cynthia was a storyteller, poet and writer. “I write poems and essays about the gifts, the pathos, and the wisdom to be found in our social margins. What is needed is simply to BE WITH; one fragile human seeing and listening to another.”

She was actively involved in helping the South Whidbey community become a better and more loving place, volunteering with local non-profits, including Island Senior Resources, Enso House, Healing Circles, and South Whidbey at Home.

Cynthia wrote three books: A Harvest of Years: A PeerSpirit Guide to Conscious Aging (2004), Meeting in the Margins (2015) which describes her work offering massage to the unhoused on the streets of San Francisco, and Mortal Beings (2019), a collection of her poetry. She also delighted in having her poems published in national journals.

Herfamily, friends, and colleagues will profoundly miss Cynthia’s rare gift of truly seeing and deeply listening to them.

Cynthia is survived by her daughter Katheryn of Totnes, England; son Michael (Kay) of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and grandchildren Anna, Joseph, Jessica, and Orion.

A celebration of Cynthia’s life and legacy will be held on April 7 at 2 pm at Enso House, 6339 Wahl Rd. Freeland. A donation in her honor may be made to Enso House or to a non-profit of your choice.