Carolyn Riggs Bernardin, known to everyone as “Lynie,” passed away peacefully of natural causes on May 12, 2023, at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, with her children by her side, holding her hands. She was 95 years old.
Lynie was born on Nov. 11, 1927, in Orange to Homer and Alice Riggs. She grew up in North Andover, and summered at the family camp on Robbins Island along the Essex River in Essex. Growing up, she would often go out fishing with her father, where he had all the luck in catching the fish (she would recount). Though she never had much luck fishing, she loved the opportunity it provided to spend time with her father. More than anything, she grew to love being on and near the water!
She attended Rogers Hall, and graduated from Pine Manor College. After college, Lynie taught kindergarten and sports at the Pike School in Andover. Through mutual friends she met her future husband, Eugene (“Gene”) Bernardin, founder of the Bernardin Insurance Agency, and, for both, it was love at first sight. In fact, Lynie had seen a picture of Gene in the town newspaper, and was so taken that she clipped the picture from the paper and carried it with her for a year before ever meeting him.
Gene and Lynie had four children, Amy, Gene, Dan, and Lucy, and shared their love of friends and boating over many years. They would often visit the Vineyard on their boat La Mouette, until in 1980, they finally bought a small, cozy house on Simpson’s Lane in Edgartown.
After her husband passed in 1989, Lynie traveled, and began to spend more and more time on the Vineyard, taking care of elderly neighbors and making more friends. Because of her love for the Island, and her growing circle of Vineyard friends, she eventually made the Island her full-time home.
Lynie had a great sense of humor, an amazingly positive attitude, loved people and doing for them, loved anything to do with “handwork” (often selling needlework at local Vineyard stores on consignment or special order), and tennis (which she played regularly into her 80s). A lifelong friend once said, “She was born with a steering wheel in her hands,” as she enjoyed nothing more than going out for drives. Even at age 95, she would drive up to Amesbury to visit her daughter … taking the ferry and making the two-plus-hour drive on her own, as recently as this past February!
When asked what she was proudest of in her life, she said, “Marrying the love of my life and raising four wonderful children. Four children and four different people, and loving them all deeply!”
Lynie was predeceased by her husband Eugene A. Bernardin, Jr., her son Daniel C. Bernardin, and her brothers Burnham and Homer Riggs. She is survived by her children, Amy Stone of Plymouth, Eugene A. Bernardin III of New Hartford, Conn., and Lucy Bernardin of Amesbury, her grandchildren, Phoenix, Kangdrake, and Lincoln Bernardin; and several nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Wounded Warrior Project, online at bit.ly/WoundedWarrior_Donate, or to the Salvation Army, online at salvationarmyusa.org/usn/ways-to-give.
A celebration of life will take place at a later date.