Michelle S. Ordway

BRIDGTON – Michelle S. Ordway died peacefully at her home due to complications from breast cancer on Dec. 7, 2019. She was 75.

Born and raised in Albany, N.Y., Michelle was the fourth and youngest child of immigrants, Anthony Sroka from Poland, who worked as a civil servant for New York, and Suzanne Gaidier Sroka from France, a university professor of languages. Michelle graduated from the Albany Academy for Girls and Vassar College. At age 20, just before her sister’s wedding, Michelle was asked to pick up the groom’s college roommate, Alan B. Ordway, at the train station. The rest, she liked to say, is history.

Michelle and Alan married in 1965 and moved to the location of his family’s summer cottage, Bridgton, Maine. After a couple years of real estate ventures, Michelle and Alan embarked on the path which defined their lives: directors of Winona Camps for Boys, located on Moose Pond. For the next 51 years, Michelle taught horseback riding to thousands of boys, and even though she was known as “Aunt” Michelle at Winona, she was truly a stand-in mother for the campers and counselors over the years. A natural teacher, Michelle used her kindness, practicality and wit to instruct children and young adults that life is about being confident in, and comfortable with, who you are as a person. Indeed, no one was a better role model for strength and modesty of knowing oneself more than Michelle Ordway.

Along with her role at summer camp, Michelle devoted her life to the protection and care of animals. She spent decades volunteering with stray and injured animals, often bringing home the neediest to the Winona Farmhouse. She filled the barn with sheep, chickens, horses, llamas and a donkey (rescued from the Grand Canyon), while the house had multiple dogs and cats at all times. It was not uncommon for guests to encounter a goat wandering from the barn into Michelle’s kitchen for a treat. Michelle was humorously proud and non-apologetic about having far more photos of pets, rather than of her two children, in the family albums.

Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer three times, the first time being before she was age 40. “These past 35 years have been a gift,” she often said in the few weeks after her final diagnosis. She spent these years well, and Winona alumni will remember her reading poignant children’s books in a calming voice at Sunday Service. Family Campers will remember her barn tours and patience with the youngest children. Friends will remember her many years volunteering at Harvest Hills Animal Shelter and Nine Lives Thrift shop. Her family will remember her as the best “Grandy” to her five grandchildren, all of whom are now teenagers, and have been granted the gift of time to know such an incredible woman. She has taught them how to live life on their own terms.

Michelle is survived by her son, Spencer Ordway (Jennifer Landry) of Gorham, her daughter, Laura Ordway (Stefan Jackson) of Bridgton, her grandchildren, Steffi, Lexi, Julia, Jacqui and Corliss, her sister, Yvonne McCredie (Jack) of Alameda, Calif., many beloved nieces and nephews, and her closest friend and neighbor, Terri Harmon Pike of Bridgton. A special thank you to the physicians, nurses and staff at the Bridgton Hospital for their care of Michelle. She was predeceased by Grendel, Igor, Chester, Stony, Hamlet, Banjo, Xanadu, Arizona, Charleston, Boris and a hundred other four-legged family members. Her husband of 48 years, Alan, passed away in 2013. She was also predeceased by her parents, her sister, Anne Stevens of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and her brother, Anthony Sroka II of Albany, NY.

A celebration of life will be held at Winona Camps, June 2020.

In lieu of flowers,

Michelle’s family asks for donations in her name be made to: Harvest Hills Animal Shelter

1389 Bridgton Road

Fryeburg, ME, 04037