Sherry Linthicum Winnette, a teacher and conservationist who was an Island resident for the latter part of her career, died on February 12 at the age of 59.
At the time of her death, Ms. Winnette was teaching pre-school children with special needs at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.
Ms. Winnette was cherished by friends for a rare blend of attributes: an adventurous spirit, a nurturing heart, and a spontaneous — occasionally wild — sense of humor.
Professionally, Ms. Winnette managed for most of her career to combine her twin passions of caring for children and preserving natural enclaves.
Reared in a family that moved frequently when she was young, Ms. Winnette was an inveterate traveler who made many forays into Mexico with her husband and organized explorations of Canada, Central America, Europe and Africa with friends and relatives.
As Ms. Winnette liked to joke, “I like staying in a hotel more than practically anything.”
Ms. Winnette was fond of dogs, BBC television, dancing, and gatherings of friends – particularly the Halloween and Christmas songfests that she and her husband hosted for many of the years they lived in Austin, Texas.
Ms. Winnette was born in Cleveland, Miss., one of five children of a father who moved his family often as he pursued his career in oil pipeline construction. She attended high school in Grapevine, Tex., and studied German and history at North Texas State University, where she also won a masters degree in special education.
Ms. Winnette settled in Austin early in her career, teaching special ed for 14 years at Pecan Springs Elementary School. She later spent more than a decade as a teacher and coordinator of programs for visiting classes at the Austin Nature and Science Center.
Ms. Winnette moved several years ago to Martha’s Vineyard, again finding ways to combine teaching with conservation. She delighted, for example, in her summer work at helping to protect the Island’s population of piping plovers.
On the Island as before in Austin, Ms. Winnette had a warm and eclectic circle of friends who cherished her knack for mimicry, her infectious laugh and her intuitive gift for putting people at ease.
“Maturity,” Ms. Winnette was fond of saying, “is when you value others more than yourself.”
Ms. Winnette is survived by her husband, Ward Winnette; two brothers, Gus N. Linthicum Jr. of Colleyville, Tex., and Charles Anthony Linthicum of Cedar Park; eight nieces and nephews and a number of grandnephews and grandnieces.
A celebration of Ms. Winnette’s life will take place Saturday, March 10, at 11 am in the chapel of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason funeral home on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs.
In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to consider a gift in Ms. Winnette’s memory to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, 111 Edgartown Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, or to the Austin Nature and Science Center, 301 Nature Center Drive, Austin, TX 78746.