Cynthia Lehner
Cynthia Lehner

Obituary of Cynthia Lehner

Cynthia Frances Lehner (née Fanning) of Penn Yan, died on May 19 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She was 77. She was born on March 27, 1946, to Clara and Leslie Fanning in Penn Yan, NY. Cyndy is survived by her daughter Nicole Lesley (Lehner) Shein; her grandchildren, Julian and Prudence; and her sister Sandy (Fanning) Hansen. She was predeceased by Nicole's father, Daniel F. Lehner; her brother, David Fanning; and her twin sister, Cecelia (Fanning) Ross. After graduating from Penn Yan Academy in 1964, Cyndy moved to Rochester, where she worked as a travel agent before meeting and marrying Dan Lehner, an artist and industrial designer, in 1968. Two years later, she gave birth to a daughter, Nicole Lesley. Cyndy was open of both mind and heart. Coming of age in the 1960s, she never relinquished the starry-eyed idealism that characterized flower children and free-thinkers. At once a pragmatist and a dreamer, Cyndy advocated for equality in all its ever-evolving iterations. She met the world and everyone in it with curiosity, an eagerness to listen and understand, and a rock-solid policy of universal acceptance. She was shirt-off-her-back generous and happily gave of herself to everyone she met, to anyone who needed her gifts—whether a childhood companion, colleague, acquaintance, friend of a friend, soul sister, or someone she had just met. While out and about, she easily struck up conversation with servers, cashiers, the people ahead of her in line, the folks seated next to her at an event. When she happened upon a young mother with a babe in arms—say, in a restaurant—Cyndy would almost invariably offer to knit a blanket or a sweater for the baby. And probably half the population of Penn Yan has been the recipient of one of the soft hand-knitted shawls that she called "reading wraps." In addition to knitting, her hobbies included reading, writing poetry, painting, and baking pies. More than anything else, she treasured time spent with family—both her blood relatives and the "chosen family" of close friends that she cultivated throughout her life. Cyndy's generosity of spirit, sense of humor, and unflagging support attracted many beautiful souls into her kitchen—where they quickly discovered her pie-crust prowess and affinity for meringue—and her life. Folks may have come for her lemon meringue, but they stayed for her abundant and abiding friendship. She frequently served as a nonjudgmental confidante and emotional safe haven for her friends' teenagers and her teenager's friends. Cyndy was not only a wonderful mother, but also "the cool mom." Later in life, she cherished nothing more than spending time with (and spoiling the heck out of) her grandkids, Jules and Pru—who called Cyndy and Ceil "Grammy" and "Other Grammy" respectively. One of Cyndy's favorite expressions was "Life is what you make of it." In her 77 years on this earth, Cynthia Frances Fanning Lehner made for herself a life of joy, creativity, curiosity, beauty, faith, altruism, honesty, and hope—and above all, of love. Per Cyndy's request, no memorial services will be held; however, her family invites you to share your own stories and remembrances. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in her name may be made to the Yates County Humane Society ( or YoungArts (, a national organization that "identifies exceptional young artists, amplifies their potential, and invests in their lifelong creative freedom."
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