Here’s what you need to know about Cynthia Wallace: She came across a little girl with wet mittens on a cold day, and she gave the girl her gloves. She met a boy who loved pigeons but couldn’t read. So she gave him a book about the birds, and the boy was reading in no time.

She was a giver.

“She was very sweet, simply a very nice person,” her daughter Isabel Wister said. “She helped people all the time.”

Mrs. Wallace, 103, died on Sunday, June 21, at the Quadrangle in Haverford of dementia and complications from the coronavirus.

Born to William and Isabel Wetherill, Mrs. Wallace grew up in Laverock, Montgomery County, with two brothers and two sisters. She was married to Caspar Wister for 37 years, and the couple had five daughters before they divorced.

Mrs. Wallace then moved to Ambler, married Joseph Bright, and “became stepmother to his grown children, who jokingly nicknamed her ‘Wicked,' ” the family said in a tribute. Mrs. Wallace was interested in archaeology, and the couple traveled extensively to Scotland, Turkey, Greece, and Mexico to view historic sites.

Mrs. Wallace dancing with grandson Christopher Welch in 2003.
Courtesy of the family
Mrs. Wallace dancing with grandson Christopher Welch in 2003.

After Mr. Bright’s death, she married Frank Wallace and lived on his family’s Brookdale Farm in Bordentown, Burlington County. The couple later moved to the Quadrangle, where he died in 2008.

Mrs. Wallace was eclectic in her interests. She attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and was accomplished in watercolors. She created beautiful organic gardens and enjoyed camping, canoeing, skiing, and tennis.

Mrs. Wallace did this watercolor of a salamander.
Courtesy of the family
Mrs. Wallace did this watercolor of a salamander.

A champion of nature, she lobbied for clean water in the Poconos, the Adirondacks, and the Wissahickon Creek. She studied birds and plants and was a member of the Garden Club of America and the Pohoqualine Fish Association in Monroe County. She also “patiently taught youngsters how to fish responsibly with dry flies,” her family wrote.

At home, Mrs. Wallace taught her daughters to garden, sew, knit, and cook. She used fresh food for her meals and loved to volunteer in the community gardens and as a student mentor at schools. She made her daughters hand-knit sweaters and put them in identical dresses she had sewn. She even made new clothes for her daughters’ dolls at Christmas.

“She loved to talk to people about all kinds of things,” Wister said.

Mrs. Wallace and her father, William Chattin Wetherill II, in 1964.
Courtesy of the family
Mrs. Wallace and her father, William Chattin Wetherill II, in 1964.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Wallace is survived by daughters Elizabeth, Cynthia, Mary, and Anne; 12 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews; and many stepchildren.

To be notified of a memorial service, write to richard@shaeff-myers.com.

Gary Miles, gmiles@inquirer.com