Following Cynthia’s birth at the University of Chicago, Lying-In Hospital, she spent her earliest years with her parents, Jack and Cynthia Weglarz and brothers, Jon and Mark, in their Oak Brook, Illinois home. When she was seven years old, they moved to Palos Park, Illinois. Their home was situated in a beautiful wooded area with a small pond and stream. Thia, as she was called, loved the wildlife, the birds, fish, frogs, and wild raspberries growing nearby.

Her early education included elementary school at St. Alexander School in Palos Heights, then Mother McAuley High School in nearby Chicago. Her other interests included ice skating, singing, dance, playing the flute and participating in the Brother Rice High School Concert and Marching Bands.

By high school graduation, Thia knew she wished to make a difference in the environment and chose a course of study called Urban Planning at the University of Illinois. This major offered classes in environmental and social needs, aiming to create a good society where humans and nature live in harmony. A class in environmental law led her to believe that she might become involved in government and establishing sound environmental policy. So after graduation from the University of Illinois and an internship as a naturalist at a nature camp in Ohio, Thia entered Valparaiso University Law School. After her first year was completed, she took a summer internship in Eugene, Oregon assisting an environmental attorney on a case involving an endangered fish in the Klamath river basin of southern Oregon. She transferred to the University of Oregon and completed her final two years of law school there, a school on the leading edge of environmental protection.

During her time in Eugene, she met Michael Rountree, a PhD candidate in Molecular Biology from Illinois. They fell in love and were married in Palos Park on August 5, 1995. Life continued in Eugene until Michael completed his dissertation. During this time, Cynthia, as she was known professionally, worked as a law clerk for Judge Jack Billings.

Michael accepted a post-doctorate position at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and so they made the move across the United States to Maryland. Cynthia studied and passed the Maryland bar exam. After a short stint as a volunteer with the National Wildlife Federation in Washington D.C., Thia accepted a position as legislative counsel to Bernie Sanders, a congressman from Vermont. Her experiences included environmental issues as well as health and veteran affairs. Wishing to concentrate more exclusively on the environment and also to work closer to their home near Annapolis, Maryland, Cynthia accepted a position as legislative counsel with the Maryland State Legislature in Annapolis. It was here that she made many contributions to the environment, especially to the restoration efforts for the Chesapeake Bay and environs. Her work put her in frequent contact with many environmental groups including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which she valued very much.

In late 2001, Cynthia and Michael moved to Memphis, Tennessee for career reasons, finding a home on a lake with beautiful views and great opportunities for enjoying the outdoors. While settling into their new home, they learned a baby was on the way. Life would soon be complete. Tragically, a severe brain hemorrhage brought life to an end for a most beautiful and inspiring woman on December 27, 2001.

The overwhelming grief suffered by her husband and family has now been changed to a commitment to the natural environment which she loved and respected. We hope this fund, which was inspired by Cynthia’s passion, will serve to continue her legacy.

Tributes to Thia