Cynthia Riggs of Martha’s Vineyard and Dr. Howard R. Attebery of San Diego are delighted to announce their engagement to be married this coming spring, 2013.
The couple met 62 years ago in San Diego where Ms. Riggs had a college job sorting plankton at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Point Loma Lab. Dr. Attebery was already working at the lab. To ease the boredom of sorting plankton, the two exchanged notes written in code on paper towels.
This past February, Ms. Riggs received a package containing the notes that Dr. Attebery had kept all those years. This triggered a correspondence that led to Ms. Riggs’s trip to San Diego in September and a proposal of marriage from Dr. Attebery.
Dr. Attebery served in the U.S. Army in WW II. He has had a long, distinguished and varied career in public health and pediatric dentistry, microbiology, photomicrography and research involving anaerobic bacteria. He served as public health dentist for both Santa Cruz County and Sonoma County in California, and was research dentist at the UCLA School of Dentistry. His work has been published widely in numerous professional journals. In addition, his interests have included photography, ornithology, glass-etching and natural history. As a young athlete, he was a discus and javelin thrower. A passionate lover of nature, he volunteered for many years at the Tijuana Wildlife Refuge.
Dr. Attebery had two sons, the late Paul Attebery and the composer Mark Attebery. Mark and his wife, Jennifer, and their two children, Luke and Sophia, live in Nyack, N.Y., where Mark teaches music.
“One should know by now never to underestimate Ms. Riggs,” wrote C.K. Wolfson in the Martha’s Vineyard Times. “Educated as a geologist, she taught at the Annapolis Sailing School, lived on a 44-foot houseboat for 12 years while running the Chesapeake Bay Ferry Boat Company, was a rigger at Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, and in her late 60s, she earned an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College, and has, in each ensuing year, produced one of the Vineyard-based, Victoria Trumbull mysteries.”
Ms. Riggs is descended from a long line of Martha’s Vineyard sea captains and their strong and independent womenfolk. Her father was an experimenter for Thomas A. Edison and later became
an eminent educator; her mother, a poet and writer. She made two trips to the Antarctic, one as a scientist with the Smithsonian Institution aboard the research vessel Eltanin, the second as a journalist sent by the National Science Foundation to the continent, where she was the seventh woman to set foot on the South Pole.
She had five children, William Stoertz and his wife Fujiko of South Korea and their two daughters, Masha and Sayaka; James Stoertz and Paula Collins of Winston-Salem, N.C. and his three children, Nasser, Aaron and Rosemary; the late Dr. Mary Wilder Stoertz and her husband Dr. Douglas Green of Athens, Ohio and their two sons, Kevin and Duncan; Ann Stoertz Ricchiazzi and her husband Dr. Paul Ricchiazzi of Santa Barbara, Calif. and their two sons, Steven and Daniel; and Robert Harris-Stoertz and his wife Dr. Fiona Harris-Stoertz of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada and their four children, Wulfric, Rowen, Morgan and Skye Willow.
In March, Dr. Attebery and his son, Mark, will motor his camper from San Diego to Martha’s Vineyard where Dr. Attebery and Ms. Riggs plan to have a quiet ceremony of commitment shortly after Dr. Attebery’s arrival. A wedding will follow in late May at the West Tisbury Congregational Church. Later this summer, a potluck reception at the Cleaveland House is planned, to which all family and friends, both Island and off-Island, are invited.
The couple will make their home in the Cleaveland House, Ms. Riggs’s ancestral home in West Tisbury.