Cornelia E. Bodkin


Cornelia E. Bodkin died on April 22, joining her late, beloved husband, Robert A. Bodkin.

Born Cornelia Elizabeth Watson in1920, Mrs. Bodkin spent her childhood and youth in Maplewood, N.J. Her immediate family — parents Ripley and Hattie Watson, brothers William Perry Watson and Ripley Watson II, and sister Harriet Watson Relyea — are now deceased.

Cornelia Bodkin graduated from Randolph-Macon in 1943 with a major in drama and literature. Her studies focused on Jane Austen, and she remained a lifelong admirer of the author’s wit and precise prose. After World War II, she moved to Bermuda to join her newly married sister Harriet and her husband, Carl Relyea, in Warwick Parish. Cornelia returned to the States in 1947 and married the brother of her best friend, Nancy Bodkin, who later became Mrs. Andrew Wood (deceased). Bob and Cornelia’s romance was sparked and sustained by a shared love of literature and delight in making each other laugh.

Mr. and Mrs. Bodkin began their life together while pursuing careers in education. Both taught at Salisbury School in Salisbury, Conn. In 1956, they co-founded, with Mr. and Mrs. Ian Hanna, Marvelwood School in Cornwall. Mrs. Bodkin taught English, directed school drama productions, and brilliantly performed as the headmaster’s wife. Her high standards and light, spirited humor inspired Marvelwood students to attain academic excellence and adult grace.

In 1981, the Bodkins retired from Marvelwood School to live in Harthaven on Martha’s Vineyard. Both Bodkins were active members of the Island community and attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Cornelia volunteered at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, was a member of the Garden Club, and continued her intellectual pursuits by joining the Want-to-Know Club, a literary group founded in the 1800s.

Cornelia and Bob also traveled during their retirement, and they were very fond of the QE2. While on a voyage, they particularly enjoyed meeting up with friends each day in the Crystal Lounge at five o’clock, where all shared their day’s adventures and joked about misadventures.

In 2003, Robert Bodkin died, aware that Cornelia was at his side. Eight years later, Mrs. Bodkin departed while surrounded by loving friends. On that day, her six surviving nieces and nephews believe, Cornelia and Robert Bodkin met again in a celestial Crystal Lounge at five o’clock. Imagine their delighted laughter and joy in each other.

A celebration of Cornelia E. Bodkin’s life will be held on June 14 at 11 am in St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 34 Summer Street, Edgartown. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be given to Marvelwood School, 476 Skiff Mountain Rd., P.O. Box 3001, Kent, CT 06757.

Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. Please visit for online guest book and information.