Lily Ordway
(1964 - 2012)

Lily Ordway

February 24, 1964

July 27, 2012

Lily was so many things: intellectually curious, verbally & visually daring, tenderhearted, generous, kind, a good friend. A poet, craftsman, and artist, she was verbal, visual, and physical. Her toolbox was loaded with everything from cameras & keyboards to precious metals & clever quips; and whether she was using a string of words or a string of beads, Lily simply got you thinking.

Born on February 24th, 1964 in Washington, DC, she was the youngest child of Girard & Marilyn Ordway (sister Lois, brother Douglas). We always knew she had a great imagination. When, as a small child, she was asked how she like a spicy bean dip, she quietly replied “it gives me dragon breath!” and then roared like a dragon. Attending the Norwood School, National Cathedral School, Leland Junior High School, and BCC High School, she made many friends who valued her quick, quirky sense of humor, and her unusual take on things. Her lovely singing voice gave her her first job as a paid soloist at All Saints Church, as well as the opportunity to perform at Wolf Trap for the Performing Arts.

Lily went on to St. Mary’s College of Maryland where she majored in poetry, and received a Bachelor of Art degree in 1986. She was thrilled to learn how to sail, and to have Alan Ginsberg say he liked her work. After college Lily bounced back to the family home in Chevy Chase. While working at the Washington National Cathedral, she discovered the joy of beadcraft and working with glass, saved a pile of money to do the Grand Tour of Europe and did it solo (loving Ireland the most). She decided to head west to study glassmaking, eventually winding up in San Francisco at the California College of Arts and Crafts. There she majored in jewelry/metal, and excelled, receiving a Certificate of High Distinction (BFA 1997) and the Sequoia Trust Scholar award. Lily continued her studies at SUNY (New Paltz), earning her MFA in 1999. Her senior thesis, "Dis-Dressed", used unconventional materials to construct garments that explored women’s body, gender, and social identities (themes common throughout her life).

After graduation, New York City. After 9/11, back to California. When she wasn’t working as an assistant for a number of artists and jewelers, Lily loved to cook, garden, and chat on-line with the growing legion of friends from around the world (including her nephew, Girard, and niece, Erin, swapping book & music recommendations, travel stories). She declared her mantra to be “Read Make Eat” (definitely a dig at Eat Pray Love). Five years ago Lily decided she needed a change of scenery and moved to Long Beach, California. Shortly thereafter, her body turned on her. At first it was thought that her kidneys had failed, but a catastrophic stroke in November of 2010 (which left her unable to communicate verbally, and hobbled physically) revealed Lupus. Lily demonstrated her true strength and just plain cussedness through so many complications, so many mountains to scale.

She died on July 27th, 2012, at the age of 48, finally succumbing to complications related to her hemodialysis. A memorial service will take place at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase on August 24th at 10:30 a.m.. In lieu of flowers expressions of sympathy may be given to the Lupus Foundation. Additionally, a bench will be dedicated to her memory at the Botanic Gardens in Palos Verdes by her California friends.

We love you Lily.

To leave your own Lily story click on "guest book" above, or create a "candle" on the right.

Looking for Connection

I know that we fill
the space around ourselves,
shaping it to the jagged
edge of teeth and smoothing
rough corners to fit
the depth of mouth, I know

we build personal
relationships with
washers and dryers, not
noticing the silence
until the droning
nocturne ends.

It is a song--a cosmic jigsaw
puzzle taking irregular
pieces and pressuring them
until they lie obedient, but bent--
understand that nothing exists
alone and suspended.

Our minds point paths
to find our way home and ask
"What is wrong with this picture"

and know that
there no space left
to float aimlessly in.
The void named and filled
by void.

Not merely random,
the freckles on my face
aligning a constellation.

Guest Book Wall (What is this?)

Hover your mouse over the wall images to see each guest book entry.

Guest Book (10 entries)
I knew Lily from when we were tiny. She was important and real. I was a friend of her sister and I remember her parents. I can see that I wish I knew her later. I last spoke with her in 1979 and that was a joy.

Oh, God. You feckless Bastard.
Jeanie (Merrill) Wallenstein (Childhood friend)
February 20th, 2013
I first met Lily in St. Mary's City, where we worked the same summer camp. She was the office manager -- the nexus of all the goings on in a Critical and Creative Thinking camp -- and it's how I most remember her, in the middle. We also were friends in D.C./Annapolis, and later when she moved to the Bay Area. We saw a great Peter Gabriel show together; had lots of working lunches in downtown SF; cooked, ate, and drank together; shared lots of friends. How to feel or what to say in her absence, after so many years? Lois, she was very proud of you! Lily, you, and your family will be in our prayers.
Mark Pothier (Friend)
August 29th, 2012
I remember Lily asking me to read her poem about Nelson Mandela and apartheid. I had not heard of either at the time , and as we walked down the hill from the dorms toward the duck pond she patiently educated me. It was a new side of Lily for me. I knew she was deep and intelligent, but I usually saw the side that liked to poke fun. (She got my naive self with "Did you know the word 'Gullible' is not in the dictionary?" Me: "REALLY!?") Lily was a complex and beautiful creature and was there along with my other St. Mary's friends helping me to grow (and grow up). Deep Peace, dear Lily.
Kelly (Boyle) Spring (St. Mary's Friend)
August 24th, 2012
I am so sad to see that Lily has passed away. I remember her from St. Mary's College--always vibrant and creative. Seeing from her memorials, I am glad that she has lived her life that way up to the last. May she rest in peace. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.
Heather Bouslog (friend)
August 22nd, 2012
Rest in peace dear Lily Leticia. So glad to have been graced by your light during my lifetime. I will miss you, but I'll never forget you.
Debbie Peoples (Friend (St. Mary's Colleg)
August 22nd, 2012
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"Lily, a laugh and a smile and a wink back at ya !"
Maureen Gorman
August 23rd, 2012
"Lily made a difference in many lives. So sad to know she has passed away. Glad to know she accomplished so much with her talents. Rest in peace Lily."
Laurena Holmes Coates
August 22nd, 2012
"Lily was a gift to the universe. Her spirit lives on,. strong!"
Michael Glaser
August 16th, 2012


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