Anne Lawton Broome, 84, died at her home in Edgartown on Thursday, April 15, of pancreatic cancer. A graveside service was held at the New Westside Cemetery on April 19. The Rev. Vincent G. (“Chip”) Seadale officiated.
Anne grew up in Fitchburg and graduated from Fitchburg High School in 1943. Annie fell in love with Martha’s Vineyard after vacationing on the Island in the summer of 1948. She returned to her job as a bookkeeper at a bank in Fitchburg but daydreamed constantly about the Island. For the next two summers Anne returned to Edgartown for her summer vacation. Only when her vacation was over in the summer of 1950, Anne didn’t return to the mainland. She began job hunting on the Vineyard.
Anne had some interesting positions, including as a maid for Mr. and Mrs. James Cagney, a chambermaid at the Harborside Inn and a waitress at the Edgartown Coffeeshop. She tells of one gentleman guest at the Inn who tipped her $40 every time she washed his woolen knee socks.
Anne finally got a permanent position at the Norton & Estabrook boatyard in Edgartown. Anne, or Annie as she was affectionately called by all who knew her, was an office girl and all-round boat hand at the boatyard. She gassed up boats, sold marine supplies and caught lines from launches and sailing ships when they tied up at the pier. It was here that she met the love of her life, Harry Darrell, the captain of the Home Sweet Home, a 60-foot schooner. Tragically the ship, passengers, and crew were lost at sea in the Bermuda Triangle during a storm in 1955. Annie never married.
Anne became the assistant town clerk of Edgartown in 1957 and was appointed town clerk when her good friend and mentor Al Prada retired. Anne retired in 1981. She was also a justice of the peace and performed more that 100 weddings, some in out-of-the-way places like the lighthouse on Chappaquiddick, South Beach, and even aboard a sailing yacht. She even officiated at her own nephew’s wedding at the Chappy lighthouse.
Annie’s hobbies included knitting, needlepoint, painting, and collecting antiques and artwork, particularly of Vineyard scenes. Anne claimed she never finished anything she started, but various paintings and a completed hooked rug stitched 1950 and with the initials ALB prove that wasn’t always the case. Annie had a large collection of cookbooks, though she said she loved to read them more than she liked cooking. Annie’s friends and family knew she liked to collect more than cookbooks, and in fact she liked to collect just about everything.
Though Annie often preferred staying home alone, her life was never lonely. Some of her friends like Pat and Mac McLeod, Mary Ann and Danny Thomas, and Jean Hathaway have been her friends for over 60 years. Al and Gen Prada included her in family gatherings, as did Walter and Jane Lison and many others. With such dear friends and colorful people like Mildred Arnold, how could her life ever be dull? Her family with their young children visited often during her early years on the Vineyard and in the 60’s her parents retired to the home they had purchased on the island in 1953. In 1975 her sister Virginia and husband Arthur moved permanently to Edgartown. Her niece Margaret and husband Steve now have a home on the Vineyard with plans to retire here soon and Barbara, who was living with Anne during her illness, will remain on the Island.
Annie did attempt a move to Florida — she lived in Holmes Beach, Florida for one year. She purchased a home, had her niece drive her and five pets there in 1989, only to have Barbara drive her back to Edgartown one year later. Fortunately she hadn’t sold her Tilton Way house. Like many Islanders, Anne found it too difficult to adapt to life off-Island!
When Annie was first diagnosed with a terminal illness, one of the medical students asked her how she felt about such a prognosis and Annie said: “I’ve had a good life, I’ve had a long life. I recently felt someone touch me on the shoulder and know it was a dear friend who passed away several years ago. So I believe there’s something more after this life and I look forward to seeing my friend Gen and all the others who have gone before me.”
Her parents, a sister, Virginia Broome Winters, a brother, Charles S. Broome Jr., and a nephew, Stephen Broome, predeceased Anne.
Anne is survived by nieces Barbara Winters of Edgartown, Margaret Winters of Westminster and Edgartown, Jennifer Simone of North Kingstown, R.I., nephews James Winters of Bristol, Vt., Timothy Broome of Prudence Island, R.I., Jonathan Broome of West Kingston, R.I., and an uncle, Donald Broome, of Fitchburg, and nine grandnieces and grandnephews.
Donations in Anne’s name may be made to the county animal shelter, make checks payable to the County of Dukes County, PO Box 190, Edgartown, 02539 (write “Animal Shelter” in memo), St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or www.stjude.org.