R.I.P., Cynthia A Timberlake

Cynthia A. Timberlake of Aiea, Hi died peacefully at home on November 27, 2021. She had celebrated her 95th birthday just three months earlier. In her long life she had been a wife, a mother, and the Head Librarian at Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

Cynthia was the older of two children. She was born in Denver, Co. but raised in Phoenix, Az. Her brother James predeceased her.

She earned a B.A. degree in English from UC-Berkeley in 1947 and a Masters in Library Science from UCLA in 1962. There was a language requirement for the MLS degree and her son remembers drilling her in Spanish from flash cards at the kitchen table in Westwood.

Cynthia married Navy officer Lewis G. Timberlake in 1947; they had two children, Stephen and Phyllis Lynn. After some years of Navy travels on each coast of the United States, the family settled in Honolulu in 1970. Cynthia began her employment at Bishop Museum that year and eventually became the Museum’s Head Librarian, retiring in 1987.

In retirement she and Lewis enjoyed European travel until his death in 1993. She was afflicted with a neurological disorder which kept her from walking in her later years, but that did not affect her bright wit and mental sharpness. She hosted an annual birthday party for other Navy wives whose birthdays also took place under the sign of Virgo.

Cy (a nickname given to her by her husband) was passionate about human rights her entire life; she and Lewis were among the marchers in Washington, D.C. for 1963’s March on Washington; she worked hard to ensure the success of the early Head Start programs in Fairfax County, Va.; she was astonished and furious to discover her son’s 7th grade Virginia history text depicted enslaved people as “servants” and worked tirelessly to get the textbook replaced. She was a proud member of the NAACP, the American Association of University Women, the ACLU, and many other organizations.

She is survived by her two children, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Services will be held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl early in 2022. Her ashes will be commingled with those of her husband and interred with him.


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