Geraldine Buckley Millham, Westport

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Geraldine Buckley Millham died unexpectedly at home with her family near on May 2, 2020, in Westport. She is survived by her husband of 45 years, Tony Millham; her two daughters, Sofia Millham and Hope Millham; a son in law, Shane Cantrell; two granddaughters, Charlotte and Phoebe Cantrell, all of Westport; and by her sister, Jennifer Bunting, of Damariscotta, Maine.

Born in San Francisco in 1948 to John and Eleanor Buckley, Geraldine grew up in Mill Valley, Calif., where she enjoyed a free-range childhood amid redwood groves and forested canyons. 

Geraldine received a B.A. in Design from U.C. Berkeley in 1970. She was a textile artist for ten years, creating wool tapestries inspired by landscapes and the feather patterns of birds’ wings. She then studied graphic design at UMass Dartmouth, where she later taught Introductory Typography classes in the Graphic Design Department. 

During her 23-year design career, she created print products for private secondary schools and environmental non-profits as well as children’s book designs for Tilbury House Publishers. Geraldine also provided many pro bono design services to local historical and cultural organizations. Throughout her career as an artist and a graphic designer, she brought creativity and a beautiful sense of design to every project she undertook. 

Geraldine’s love of local history and commitment to the preservation of old vernacular architecture will leave a lasting impact on treasured places in Westport. She served on the Westport Historical Commission for more than 35 years, and though she once referred to this participation as a life sentence, she was a constant source of reason and fairness and provided vital institutional continuity for the commission. For this long public service, she will be remembered fondly by many and perhaps less so by others who sought changes to their buildings out of character with their histories. 

In the late 1970s, when the Westport Town Farm was threatened with sale, Geraldine played a key role in organizing the farm’s defense and in raising funds to preserve the buildings and the farm’s 30 acres of fields, woods, and salt marsh. She was subsequently responsible for the ongoing operation and oversight of the property, which in 2006 translated into a partnership between the town and the Trustees of Reservations. Thanks to her many years of dedication, the public can enjoy gathering for community events at the Town Farm, walking along its stonewalled paths, and taking in its fine views of the Westport River. 

Geraldine’s work as an artist and a historic preservationist extended to her home. In the early 1970s, Tony and Geraldine dismantled and moved a 1720 house to their property in Westport. They combined their talents to create the beautiful home where they raised their girls, tended their gardens, fed their friends, and welcomed many visitors over the decades. 

Even with the recent upheavals, Geraldine was able to enjoy the long-awaited return of her daughter Sofia’s family from California to Westport. Despite a recent fall, she was able to have her granddaughters close to her all the time, sharing stories, school projects, crafts, and naps. She will be remembered for her wonderful sense of humor, the encouragement she gave her daughters and their friends over the years, her style and lovely sense of color, and above all her love for her family.

A memorial service for Geraldine will be held at a time when all can gather freely to celebrate her life. Donations in her memory can be sent to the Greater Fall River Community Food Pantry, the Westport Food Pantry, the Westport Historical Society, or the Westport Land Trust.

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