Wendy Knickerbocker, 70, died June 8, 2019, at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center due to complications arising from her treatment for breast cancer. She was born Dec. 9, 1948, in Bar Harbor, the daughter of Charles H. Knickerbocker, MD and Julia (Cheyney) Knickerbocker.
Wendy grew up in Bar Harbor, attending public school through grade eight. She graduated from the MacDuffie School in Springfield, Mass., in 1966. She then attended Vassar College, where she served as class president and editor of the campus newspaper. She eventually graduated cum laude from Colby College in 1973 as one of its first graduates to earn a bachelor’s degree in American studies. She was elected Phi Beta Kappa. In 1980, she earned an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and was elected Beta Phi Mu.
Wendy worked for more than 20 years as an academic librarian, serving College of the Atlantic, Rhode Island College and, finally, as director of the Nutting Memorial Library at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. While working at College of the Atlantic, she met her future husband, David E. Avery. At various times in her life Wendy worked as an editor in the publishing business, contract librarian, bartender, bank teller, bookkeeper, and even as manager of Geddy’s Pub in Bar Harbor. After retiring, she was active in the community of Castine, serving as chair of the trustees of the Witherle Memorial Library and as editor of the Castine Historical Society newsletter. At the time of her death, she was also serving as a director of the Beatrix Farrand Society on Mount Desert Island. In addition to numerous published articles on a variety of topics, Wendy also wrote two scholarly biographies of American religious figures: “Sunday at the Ballpark: Billy Sunday’s Professional Baseball Career, 1883-1890” and “Bard of the Bethel: The Life and Times of Boston’s Father Taylor, 1793-1871.”
Wendy was so much more than her work and her education. She loved Maine and Mount Desert Island and was fiercely proud of being a native of Bar Harbor. She loved words and wrote poetry, winning an award for one of her poems in 2015. She loved music, folk music especially. If it was popular between 1960 and 1973, she knew all the lyrics. Wendy also walked. She became a familiar sight wherever she happened to live, walking her daily commute, whether in Boston, Providence, Castine or Bar Harbor. She preferred walking (in any kind of weather) because she could see the world close-up and unhurried. She loved nature. Wendy was a true intellectual, reading widely and collecting books her whole life. She was especially interested in the intersection of American religion and culture. Wendy’s own spiritual side required her to be quiet and listen to her heart. Thus she practiced as a Quaker privately. This led to her interest in Native peoples, particularly their religious and cultural traditions. Her faith also led her to be a loyal Boston Red Sox fanatic long before 2004.
Wherever she went, Wendy collected friends. Her friends from Bar Harbor invited her to the Bar Harbor High School Class of 1966 reunions for years, never minding that she did not actually attend BHHS. In the 1970s, she lived in California. She collected friends from the bank where she worked. Many were still on her Christmas card list for 2019, more than 40 years later. And so it went. At every stop in her life, people gravitated toward her. She was easy to like because she was small and fun, kind and gentle, loyal and generous. Wendy, more than most, lived according to the Golden Rule. She truly refrained from judging, always assumed the best and sought the positive in people and in life. She was inspiring.
Wendy is survived by her husband of 34 years, David E. Avery; her brother E. Ripley Knickerbocker and his wife, Carol (Sochovka), of Hampden; their sons Erik R. Knickerbocker of Ellsworth and Christopher A. Knickerbocker of Brunswick; her sister Barbara C. Knickerbocker of West Chester, Pa.; her in-laws, Willard J. and Elizabeth K. Avery of Kensington, Conn.; her sister-in-law Mary (Avery) Hrubiec of Londonderry, N.H., and her children Katie Rogers of Manchester, N.H., and David Hrubiec of Hooksett, N.H.; and her sister-in-law Lisa M. Avery of Plainville, Conn.
Wendy will be buried in her beloved Bar Harbor in a private ceremony. Later, her family will arrange a celebration of her life where friends can share memories. Wendy’s favorite local charities were the Maine Seacoast Mission, the MDI Hospital and the Jesup Memorial Library. Before she passed, she suggested that people donate to their favorite local charities in her memory, if they so desire.