Obituary: Rosamond Hawthorne Mikkelsen, 104

By The Mikkelsen Family, January 2016  

Rosamond Hawthorne Mikkelsen — a lifelong resident of Redding, and the first donor (with her mother) of land to the Redding Land Trust — died on January 4, 2016, at Danbury Hospital. She was 104.

Rosamond Hawthorne Mikkelsen.

Rosamond Hawthorne Mikkelsen.

She was the only child of Gwendolen Hawthorne Mikkelsen and Michael Andreas Mikkelsen, and a great-granddaughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne. When she was about two years old, her parents brought her to the farm they had recently purchased in West Redding. She would spend her entire life there, except for a year traveling in Europe, a winter in Granada, and a few months working at the Barden Corporation in Danbury during World War II.

Rosamond’s childhood was a continuous rich adventure led among a large gang of cousins and friends, riding horseback and putting on plays and writing stories for their Story Club. She attended the home-school taught by her uncle Henry Hawthorne, and later a day-school in Norwalk. She graduated from the Spring Hill School in Litchfield. Her father then offered her a choice: a college education, or a year in Europe. “I didn’t hesitate for a moment,” she said.

She never married. She said once that when she realized she would never have a family, she went through a period of depression, until “I came to the conclusion that any happiness I can contribute to the world is good for the world, even if that happiness is my own.”

Rosamond lived absolutely on her own terms. A gifted writer and a skillful painter of portraits and landscapes, by her forties she had set aside those pursuits, devoting herself to maintaining her home as a gathering place for the extended family. Doing much of the physical work herself, she landscaped the property, planting flowers, trees, and shrubs, building terraces, and digging a pond. She redecorated indoors as well, painting walls and floors and hanging wallpaper. She designed, and supervised the construction of, a large addition to the house. She sewed her own clothes, grew her own food (she was one of the first, locally, to experiment with organic gardening), and made her own wine. She was an excellent tennis player, usually placing high in the yearly tournaments in Redding and Weston. She continued to garden, and to mow her extensive lawns, into her late nineties.

Passionately interested in science and world affairs, she was always eager to implement any idea she thought would benefit humanity. It was in this spirit that she became the first to donate property to the Redding Land Trust after it was founded in 1965.

Rosamond is survived by her first cousin Joan Ensor, of Redding and South Burlington, VT, and by her younger cousins Imogen Howe and Lynn Deming, of Redding; Joan Cowie, of Bloomfield, CT; Gail Gardner, of Woodstock, GA; Rust Deming, of Bethesda, Maryland; Rosamond Deming, of Madrid, Spain; Sally Howe, of South Burlington, VT; and Alison Deming, of Tucson, AZ.

Donations in Rosamond’s memory may be made to the Redding Land Trust.