Obituary : Dawn Greeley
Dawn Greeley, 59, artist and long-time Chilmark resident, died at home on Friday night, May 9. She was surrounded by family.
In an age of specialization, Dawn stood apart as a woman whose creative and mathematical talents were equally realized. For decades she worked in the upper echelons of Digital Equipment Corporation, only to rediscover herself here on the Island as an artist.
In her battle with cancer, many of her close associates thought by the sheer force of will that defined Dawn's personality, she would hold out until her much-anticipated art opening on May 23 at the Shaw Cramer Gallery in Vineyard Haven. Unfortunately, this wasn't to be, but friends all over the Island will congregate on that day, surrounded by Dawn's vibrant canvasses, to celebrate her life, her art, and the beauty she created all around her.
Dawn was born and raised in New Britain, Conn., to parents Nancy and Vincent Moorad. She attended Simmons College, majoring in Economics and Political Science, graduating in 1970. While still in college, she agreed to a blind date with a young man at Tufts who came down with a cold and, at the last minute, sent a classmate in his stead. The stand-in was Roger Greeley, who she married in 1970.
Dawn's ascent through the corporate ranks - she was the most senior of high-tech woman managers in New England - mirrored Roger's career in marketing at General Electric. They lived in Sudbury for 22 years, with Dawn giving birth to their son, Alex, in 1984. A few years earlier, in 1979, they bought a condo at Mattakeesett, eventually purchasing land on Old Ridge Hill in Chilmark where they built their family home.
Dawn, who was studying art at the DeCordova Institute in Lincoln, began phasing out the corporate milieu in favor of spending time on the Vineyard. Roger started a consulting company, which afforded more flexibility. By the late 1990s Dawn, Roger and son Alex Greeley became year-round Islanders.
In rapid succession, she became a leading presence in Whipporwill Farm's Community Supported Agriculture; chair of the Women's Symposium in Chilmark; director of the Martha's Vineyard Regional Cultural Council; and board member of Featherstone Center For The Arts and the Martha's Vineyard Garden Club.
Dawn's art flowed from her love of color, explosive with incisive shapes and vibrant hues, sometimes abstract, other times representational of landscapes. Her art teacher, Skip Lawrence, whose classes Dawn attended annually in Greenville, N.Y., wrote in a recent email: "I know full well I am a better person for having known Dawn. [Her work] fills my eyes with a loving joy of the garden filled with her plants and enthusiasm. Her lessons to all of us are as clear as the shapes she created in her paintings. Lessons that scream, 'Go for the best, smile all the way, and never let the bastards grind you down.'"
In the final days, as Dawn's friends gathered and comforted one another, someone asked Alex (who is developing training programs for EMC-2 in Franklin), "So who's your mother's best friend?" to which he replied, "We all are, for different reasons."
In the last few years, with Alex away at Carnegie Mellon Institute, Dawn enjoyed the blue and gold skies of Palm Springs, Calif. Even this past winter and early spring, with her health beginning to falter, she painted, attended lectures, and enlarged her already prodigious circle of friends.
In a final bestowal of beauty, Dawn left funds and the designs for a garden to be constructed at Featherstone Center for the Arts. Director Francine Kelly says that Dawn's intent was to provide a quiet spot where artists and nature lovers can enjoy reflective moments. When the Dawn Greeley Memorial Garden is inaugurated in the fall, a corresponding event will take place for friends and other admirers to celebrate Dawn's life and enduring legacy. A poster of her show at the Shaw Cramer Gallery was created for sale to raise funds for the garden.
In addition to Alex and Roger, Dawn is survived by her mother, Nancy Moorad of Connecticut, sister Gail Fujisawa of Riverwoods, Ill., and brother Gregory Moorad of Oakland, Calif.
Donations can be sent to Featherstone Center for The Arts, in care of the Dawn Greeley Memorial Garden, at P.O. 1145 Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.