Cynthia Baker Grenier, a longtime journalist and a former features writer and editor for The Washington Times, died peacefully at her home in Northwest Washington on Nov. 12. She was 89.
A longtime companion and caretaker said Mrs. Grenier was serene to the end, surrounded by her favorite books and commenting on classic films while under the care of hospice attendants.
Born in 1927 in Medford, Massachusetts, Mrs. Grenier was the daughter of homemaker Stella Francis Fish Baker and Stanley Baker Sr., a Navy veteran and nephew of Capt. John “Mad Jack” Percival, one of the pioneers of the Navy’s global outreach.
After graduating from Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1948, she married Richard Grenier, who was studying at Harvard University after his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy and tours of duty in the Pacific and the Atlantic. The couple moved to Paris shortly after, and together embarked on decadeslong careers “uncovering the culture,” as they both liked to say.
As a writer for the Paris Herald-Tribune in the 1950s and 1960s, Mrs. Grenier was among the first American film critics to herald the coming of the directors collectively known as the “New Wave,” including Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais. She wrote many articles about directors and actors of the period but by no means only about the French cinema. She conducted in-depth interviews with Richard Burton and Ingmar Bergman for Playboy magazine.
Her often-acerbic, witty reviews and features appeared in a wide range of French and English-language publications on both sides of the Atlantic during years when the “new world” for Americans was the old one, culturally speaking.
The Greniers returned to the United States in 1980, settling first in New York City, then Los Angeles and, a few years later, Washington, D.C., where they both pursued their careers and settled into writing and editing vocations.
A lively presence in Washington press circles, Mrs. Grenier worked at The Washington Times as a features reporter, editor and columnist in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and contributed to such outlets as The Weekly Standard and WND.com.
A lifelong and passionate reader with broad tastes and interests, she founded the Grenier Foundation to promote literacy while encouraging the “cultural criticism” in which she and her late husband specialized.
Mrs. Grenier is survived by a niece, Meredith Baker of Mount Vernon, Washington; a nephew, Loring Baker of Hollywood, Florida; and grand- and great-grand nephews and nieces.