Obituary for Jenifer Gordon Mumford
Tenants Harbor — Jenifer Gordon Mumford died Feb. 4, 2018, at Sussman House in Rockport surrounded by her loving husband, David, her children and sisters. She was 81.
Jen was born in 1937 and grew up in Farmington, Conn. Her parents, Andrew and Millicent Gordon, had three daughters. Jen was the oldest, followed by Elizabeth and Millicent (Mimo).
In the 1940s the family bought a house on Hart’s Neck Road, Tenants Harbor, and lived there every summer. The sisters often left after breakfast to explore many of the nearby islands and didn’t return home until supper.
After Jen graduated from the Oxford School in West Hartford, Conn., her parents urged her to “get out there,” and she did. At age 18, while on a mission trip, she worked for the head surgeon at a Newfoundland hospital. In 1959 she graduated from Smith College with a major in fine arts.
“Next year, guess what? Didn’t waste any time,” she said; she married Allen Moore, a young Yale-trained architect. Together they moved to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. There, her sons Allen (Alley) and Andrew were born. It was a happy time. They built a house overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
In 1966 the family moved to Boston, where daughter Nina was born. They lived in a second-floor apartment on Charles Street, but quickly outgrew it and moved to nearby Milton.
Jen loved the big, run-down Victorian house in Milton. “Great neighbors, lots of friends, and the kids had bunny rabbits, a big dog, cats, and endless parakeets that the cats would eat.” Once her kids got a bit older, Jen became the full-time art teacher at the Advent School in Boston. After her marriage ended in 1972, she continued to raise her children in Milton while commuting to work in the city. She also earned her master’s degree in art education from Massachusetts College of Art in 1976.
In 1977, when her boys were old enough for boarding school, Jen moved with daughter Nina to Princeton, N.J. She accepted a position teaching art at the West Windsor Plainsboro Regional High School, a job that she held and loved for many years.
In 1989 Jen married David Mumford, a math professor whose family had a summer house across town on the St. George River in Maine.
A new family was formed as David, a widower, brought along three sons and a daughter. Jen moved into David’s house in Cambridge, Mass. While getting used to the “complexities of being a stepmother,” she remembered often talking to Tara, the Mumford family dog. Around this time, with David’s support, Jen left teaching to pursue her lifelong dream of making art, painting in particular.
From then on it was Jen and David, a true couple in the best sense of the word.
David taught at Harvard until 1996, then at Brown University, where he stayed until his retirement. Along the way Jen discovered “what being married to a mathematician was like.” Together they saw a lot of the world, as math meetings occurred everywhere from China to Brazil to California and points in between.
While sailing on trips to Bermuda and the Caribbean, they encountered long stretches of open ocean, large swells, gale winds and that “wall of water” she’d nervously read about. Jen never got seasick, and took pride in delivering hot tea and soup when the weather turned rough.
Their life together was happily punctuated by the marriages of their seven collective children, and the births of 14 adored grandchildren.
And always there was Maine, where Jen, starting in 1995, exhibited paintings at the Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland. She did so for the next 22 years. Her longstanding interest in nature, landscape and the workings of biology was often the subject of her beautiful paintings.
In 2003 Jen joined the Board of Directors for Trekkers, an outdoor-based mentoring and education program that assists young people. Over the years, she helped transform the organization into a full-fledged nonprofit. She loved bumping into Trekkers kids around town, and considered the organization’s founder, Don Carpenter, a sixth son.
A few years ago Jen and David moved year-round to Fox Farm, their home in Tenants Harbor, where they were welcomed by local friends. Both she and David were thankful.
Jen had a wonderful ability to connect with people from all walks of life. The door to her house was always open, and the living room a base camp for neighbors, friends and family. Affectionate, funny, bright, caring, honest, a tremendous life force, Jen will be missed deeply by those who knew and loved her.
Jen is survived by husband David Mumford; son Alley Moore, wife Michele and granddaughters Emily and Nina; son Andrew Moore and grandchildren Gordon and Hannah; daughter Nina Howell, husband Bill and grandchildren Courtney, Jake and Kate; stepson Steve Mumford, wife Inka and grandson Kaspar; stepson Peter Mumford, wife Adriana and grandsons Henry and Linus; stepson Jeremy Mumford, wife Sohini and granddaughters Anarkali and Neerja; stepdaughter Suchitra Mumford and granddaughters Maya and Leela; sister Elizabeth Gordon McKim; sister Mimo Gordon Riley and husband David; and many beloved nieces, nephews and friends.
A memorial service to celebrate Jen’s life will be held Saturday, March 3, at 2:30 p.m. at the Rockland Congregational Church, 180 Limerock St., Rockland.
Donations in Jen’s honor may be sent to Trekkers, 41 Buttermilk Drive, Thomaston, ME 04861 or trekkers.org.