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Shelter Island Reporter obituaries: Judy Rojas Bennett, Margaret Walther


Judy Rojas Bennett

Judy Rojas Bennett died peacefully in her sleep at her home on Ram Island on Wednesday, July 18 after a three-year battle with cancer.

Judy Rojas Bennett
Judy Rojas Bennett

She was surrounded by her loving family, her husband of 56 years, Jim, her three daughters, Fernanda Bennett Kiernan, Anne Bennett Byers, Jill Bennett Heaney, their husbands and five grandchildren.

Judy was born in Malverne, New York on September 12, 1939. Coincidentally, the same doctor delivered her husband the year before in the same hospital.

She attended Cornell University where she met Jim and they were married in his last year of law school.

After two years in the U.S. Army, they returned to Long Island and lived in Rockville Centre, Garden City, Shelter Island and North Palm Beach, Florida.

Judy loved her family, sports, games and gardening. She played golf, tennis and bridge for both fun and competition, winning several club championships.

She also loved her gardens and nurturing flowers and vegetables. She was filled with a love of life and the blessings of family and friends.

She will be missed mightily, her family said.

Margaret Walther

Margaret Walther passed away peacefully on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 in Greenport Hospital, with her daughter Cindy and her cousins Patty and Steve by her side. She was 74 years old.

The Liturgy of Christian Burial was celebrated July 25 at Our Lady of the Isle Roman Catholic Church on Shelter Island, officiated by Father Peter DeSanctis. Interment followed at Our Lady of the Isle Roman Catholic Cemetery.

Margaret was born in Greenport Hospital on April 27, 1944 to Florence and Tony Olenski, both of Shelter Island.

She grew up on the Island with her brother Donald and many cousins from the Island and Greenport and always loved to recall stories of her youth during a time on Shelter Island long since gone.

Margaret attended Shelter Island School where she graduated in 1962. She married her first husband Charles Ryder (known to most as Bubby) and had two children. Margaret was a member of the Shelter Island Garden Club and the Shelter Island Ladies Auxiliary for many years. She loved gardening and flowers and could make the most beautiful arrangements, her family said, just from simple wildflowers that grew on the Island; her home was always filled with lilacs in the spring.

Margaret loved being a mom and homemaker, her family added, and was very creative, always making her children’s Halloween costumes and many bonnets for the Easter Parade.

She also loved animals, big and small, and one never knew what you might find at her home. There were raccoons, ducks, geese and birds, along with the more normal dogs and cats, and “everyone” came in at night, her family said, and she made sure everyone was tucked in safely. The stories of Margaret and her animals could fill this paper, her family said.

Margaret loved to cook and although she never had any formal training was an excellent cook, who could cook for two or 52, and one more was always welcome. Wherever she lived, her family said, the door was always open, supper was on the table and everyone was welcome.

Margaret worked at the original George’s Market for many years and also for Mike Zavatto’s deli, becoming friendly with both families.

In later years, she cleaned homes on the Island and, never one to fear a hard day’s work, her family said, she would go scalloping with her second husband, Roger Walther. She would be in the waters in and around Shelter Island at 5:30 a.m. on cold November days, and then stand in the shop until her hands were numb, her family remembered. Supper was still served on time.

Margaret loved the water and instilled that love in both of her children and later her grandchildren, when she would teach them how to go clamming with their feet, a favorite pastime of hers. She loved to take her grandchildren snapper fishing in the late days of summer when they were little.

Margaret loved the Island and enjoyed all the different seasons and the simple beauties they had to offer, walking on the beaches and picking up beach glass, watching the return of the ospreys in the spring and making arrangements with bittersweet branches to brighten up her home when the days became shorter and darker in the fall.

She also enjoyed reading and in later years, was said to read a book a day.

Margaret was a kind, compassionate and generous woman, her family said, always willing to lend a hand when needed and giving freely of her time to so many others, asking nothing in return.

Margaret was predeceased by her beloved father Tony Olenski in 1991; her brother Donald Olenski in 1997; her son Barry Ryder; her mother Florence Olenski in the early days of January of this year; and her former mother-in-law Alma Ryder this past June.

Margaret is survived by her daughter Cindy Arkinson and her husband Steven of Sag Harbor; her grandchildren Steven and Phoebe Arkinson of Sag Harbor; her grandsons Joseph Ryder of Tennessee and Max Pelletier of Shelter Island; granddaughter Haley Ross of Bridgehampton; and by her cousins and life-time friends Patty and Stephen Lenox of Shelter Island.

Donations can be made to the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation or the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church Food Pantry.

On a windy day, her family asks, remember Margaret — she loved the wind.