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Porter, Lynn R. (Rogers)

Artist and Friend

Lynn passed away peacefully on October 7; she was 87. Her life was filled with family, friends, art, creativity, travel, dogs, and her husband, Bill. 

Lynn was the daughter of Dorothy T. Rogers and Lyman F. Rogers. She was born in Middletown, NY on March 4th, 1933 and grew up in Trumbull, CT. She graduated from Dana Hall in 1951 and continued on to Skidmore College in NY where she was a fine arts major and received her bachelor's degree, the first college graduate in her family. At Skidmore, she studied jewelry under Earl Pardon, who was a lasting creative influence throughout her life.

Goldsmithing was her lifelong passion, and she continued to learn throughout her life, taking classes in goldsmithing, welding, stone-setting, and woodworking, always experimenting with new techniques, and rarely agreeing to make the same thing more than once. Through her words and works Lynn exhibited her curiosity and appreciation - of people, of objects, of beauty - both natural and humanly crafted.

Many are the recipients of her jewelry, commemorative pieces, sculptures, and more than a few wedding bands. Lynn was most inspired when creating for another person, and so produced many beautiful, symbolic pieces which artfully enhanced the lives of those she knew and loved.

Lynn’s love for the arts was infectious. She was one of the founders, in 1982, of The Umbrella Arts Center in Concord, a community arts center that provides multi-use artists’ studios, educational programming, exhibition spaces, and much more to Concord and its surrounding towns. In Cambridge, Lynn started the Grasshopper, a children’s dress shop on Boylston Street in Harvard Square. She frequently shared her talents and enthusiasm with younger artists, teaching metalsmithing at the Carroll School in Lincoln, MA to 4th and 5th graders, and volunteering in a wide range of programs for all ages, including numerous activities at the public schools in Concord.

Lynn also enjoyed music, which held a special place in her life. While at Skidmore, Lynn sang with the acapella group the Sonneteers, and in the fall of her senior year, she met Bill when they hosted the Yale Whiffenpoofs in which Bill was the pitchpipe. That December, they were engaged, and then married in August of 1955. Attending concerts, including those of family and friends of all ages, playing the recorder, learning to play the cello, and listening to Bill play the piano were all integral to her enjoyment of life.

The years from ‘55 to ‘64 were packed with multiple moves and cities, from New Haven to Boston to Georgetown to Philadelphia to Caracas. Lynn worked for the city planning commission in New Haven, and for graphic arts firms while Bill pursued studies in architecture and basic training in the Army. In the midst of this, they raised their first of many dogs, Sothis, an Ibizan hound, and one of only a very few in the United States. Just after moving to Philadelphia in 1960, Quayny, the first of her three daughters was born. Shortly thereafter Lynn packed up dog and daughter and moved to Caracas, Venezuela where Bill was working as a designer of the new city, Ciudad Guayana. She continued with her jewelry, traveled in the region with Bill, and 1964, Zoë, her second daughter was born in Caracas. Lynn and Bill then moved to Massachusetts, and after living in Cambridge and Belmont, where their youngest daughter, Eve, was born, they moved to Concord for 20 years.

For more than 50 years, Lynn actively engaged in life at MIT. As Bill pursued his PhD there, joined the faculty and became Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, Lynn hosted events in Concord and at MIT which enlivened and enriched the community of faculty and students. In 1991, they moved back to Cambridge and became Heads of House at MIT’s Burton Conner House, where Lynn hosted numerous activities and events for students, and shared house, dogs, a thoughtful ear, and advice. Lynn’s amazing ability to listen to and make individuals feel special thrived while she worked with students. After their time at Burton Conner, Lynn and Bill remained in Cambridge, where Lynn continued with her jewelry and began her transition to drawing.

Lynn traveled the world and loved to learn about other ways of life, photograph everyday things like drain pipes and hinges, shops and houses, and to help her children and others learn about the history, folklore, and art of cultures from around the world. From 1975-1985 Lynn and Bill traveled extensively throughout the Muslim world while Bill was a member of the Steering Committee of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, visiting Iran, Morocco, Yemen, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and China. Yemen captivated her imagination, and she gave many talks and slideshows on her adventures there and its history.

There were many constants in Lynn and Bill’s life together, beyond family, friends, art, music, travel, and MIT. Lynn often remarked, “What would life be without a dog?,” and for their 65 years together, a succession of nine dogs kept them company. They summered on Squam Lake in New Hampshire, where Lynn enjoyed boating, planting, hiking, spending time with friends, children and grandchildren, and working in her studio, which Bill designed. She also became very involved in the Squam Lakes Association, serving on its board, and helping to build a vibrant summer program for children.

Lynn developed dementia in her late 70s and, despite the effects of this condition, her creativity and passion for art never left her; nor did her love for Bill and warmth for all. She found new expression in charcoal drawing and shared her work at a variety of exhibitions, including a show at the assisted living center, Cadbury Commons, where she moved in 2016. 

Lynn is survived by Bill, her husband of 65 years; by their three children: Quayny Porter-Brown (Wyatt Porter-Brown) of Concord, NH; Zoë Anderson (Dan Anderson) of Cambridge, MA; and Eve Porter-Zuckerman (Duncan Porter-Zuckerman) of Sandwich, NH; and by seven grandchildren: Keela Mar, Mason, Zeyla, Taplin, Io, Thomas, and Ursula. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews, friends, and their dog, Lyra.

A shorter version of this obituary was published in the Boston Globe on November 29, and in the Concord Journal on December 3.