Grace Lester Cobb Meigs, 91, died Friday, April 13, peacefully at home, in the company of her family.
She was born in Dallas, Texas, to Delmore and Grace Finn Cobb in 1926. She graduated from the Hockaday School in Dallas and attended Wellesley College on a Seven Sisters scholarship. An English major, she could recite the Prologue to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales—in Middle English—throughout her life.
Upon graduating in 1948, Lester moved to Chicago where she worked as an advertising copywriter. On a blind date engineered by her doting aunt Gladys Finn, she was introduced to a University of Chicago graduate student named A. James Meigs. They married in 1950 and had four children. Lester and Jim lived a peripatetic, but hardly rootless, life, moving from Chicago to Arkansas, St. Louis, Princeton, Claremont, Calif., and back to Princeton. In each locale, Lester cemented lifelong friendships.
Lester loved to read and always kept up to date on literature and ideas. Car rides shuttling children to the YMCA or horseback-riding lessons typically included conversations about theology, anthropology, or linguistics. When her own children were in school, she was often found auditing classes at Princeton University.
Her parenting style was simultaneously loving and laissez-faire. While unstinting with hugs, she believed children also needed freedom. Shoes were optional; tree climbing encouraged.
And Lester was quite adventurous in her own right. She and Jim were certified scuba divers and explored reefs and wrecks around the world. They also traveled widely above the high-tide line, often in the company of her beloved brother Allen Cobb and his wife, Bonnie. (Regions with vineyards were particularly prized.)
Wherever she lived, Lester was involved in charitable work, including teaching English to refugees in California, and volunteering at New Jersey’s Neuro-Psychiatric Institute. She was an active parishioner at Princeton’s All Saints Church for over five decades. After moving to the Princeton Windrows community in 2001, she made yet another set of friends. In her later years, she treasured the companionship of her caretaker, Patsy Nam-Foster.
She is survived by her children, Margaret Meigs (Paul Laskow) of Philadelphia, Susan Meigs (Todd Vunderink) of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., James Meigs (Jennifer Stern) of Yonkers, N.Y., and Barbara Meigs Hughes (James Hughes) of Madison, N.J., and by her 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild. She was predeceased by her husband, brothers Allen, Delmore, and Robert, and sisters Sarah and Anne.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 12, 3 p.m., at All Saints Church, in Princeton, N.J.
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