Cynthia Carter DeFelice


Cynthia Carter DeFelice (“Dee”), an awardwinning American children’s writer, passed away peacefully on Friday, May 24, 2024, at the age of 72.

Born on Dec. 28, 1951, in Philadelphia, Pa., Dee lived in Geneva, N.Y., on the shore of Seneca Lake with her best friend and husband of 51 years, Dr. Ralph (“Buzz”) DeFelice, and their spirited German shorthaired pointer, Ivy.

Together, Dee and Buzz built a life filled with love and adventure in and around the Finger Lakes and abroad. Their travels and adventures, including African safaris, fly-fishing in New Zealand, backpacking in Montana, chasing tarpon in the Florida Keys, and annual visits to Martha’s Vineyard, inspired the backdrop for many of her books. Dee enjoyed fishing, gardening, birdwatching, and daily hikes on “the trail” with Ivy. A passionate Buffalo Bills fan and a voracious reader, Dee also loved word games, crossword puzzles, and quilting.

Dee’s family was her greatest joy, and she always prioritized the well-being of her loved ones. She was a devoted stepmother to Ralph Covert DeFelice and Dr. Michelle (“Shellie”) Hucke, and a loving grandmother to Enzo and Emi DeFelice, and Annabelle and Lizzy Hucke.

Dee grew up in Abington, Pa., graduated from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., in 1972, and later earned her M.S. degree from Syracuse University. Before becoming an author, she worked as a bookseller, barn painter, storyteller, and school librarian.

Her passion for reading began in her childhood, fostered by her mother, Ann, who read to Dee and her siblings every night. These cherished moments sparked Dee’s lifelong love for storytelling and writing.

Dee was a prolific author, touching the hearts and minds of countless young readers through her 40 books and novels. She found enormous satisfaction in hearing from readers who were delighted and inspired by her works.

Her literary contributions were recognized with numerous honors, including nominations for the Edgar Allan Poe Award and listings in American Library Association Notable Children’s Books and Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year. Dee’s published works include the acclaimed novels “Weasel,” “Wild Life,” “The Ghost of Cutler Creek,” “Signal,” and “The Missing Manatee,” as well as the noted picture books “One Potato, Two Potato” and “Dancing Skeleton.”

Dee’s life was a testament to the power of love, dedication, and the written word. She will be remembered as an accomplished writer, a loyal friend, a loving mother, a devoted wife, and a woman of extraordinary spirit. Her legacy is not only in her books but in the lives she touched with her kindness and wisdom. Her stories and love will continue to live on in the hearts of all who knew her.

Dee was predeceased by her parents, Dr. William Stanley Carter and Ann Baldwin Carter, as well as her brothers Dr. Chip Carter and Dr. Ashton Carter, former U.S. Secretary of Defense. In addition to her husband Buzz, children Shellie and Ralph, and grandchildren, she is survived by her sister Corinne (“Corky”) Greene, nephews and nieces Thomas Carter, Simon Greene, Will Carter, Michelle Plummer, Hadley Greene Rodero, and Ava Carter, and sisters-in-law Mindy Carter and Stephanie Carter.

A memorial service to celebrate Dee’s life will be held on Saturday, August, 3, at 10:30 am at St. Peter’s Church, 149 Genesee St., Geneva, N.Y. The Rev. Jim Gerling will officiate. 

Memorial contributions in Dee’s memory may be made to the Keuka Outlet Trail, P.O. Box 65, Dresden, NY 14441,; to Ducks Unlimited,; to Finger Lakes Land Trust, 202 East Court St., Ithaca, NY 14850,, or to the Nature Conservancy, 274 North Goodman St. b261, Rochester, NY 14607,