Jane Newhall, aged 97, of San Francisco and West Tisbury, died July 27 at home in the town she so loved. She was born October 4, 1913, in San Francisco to Jane Peers and Edwin White Newhall Jr.
Her California home, shingled inside and out, was built by her grandmother, Virginia Whiting Newhall, reflecting Virginia’s New England roots.
Jane’s first visit to the Island was at age 14 for her grandmother’s funeral. She returned a year later, in 1928, for the 50th wedding anniversary of her aunt and uncle, Georgiana Whiting and Judge Everett Allen Davis. Briefly, she summered at Quenames with her parents and later at a cabin built by her grandmother on the shores of Katama, where there was no electricity and Jane cooked on a kerosene camp stove, and hand-pumped water into an indoor storage tank.
Jane hosted Fourth of July celebrations there for family, serving her renowned devilled eggs, canned ravioli and ginger snaps. Sundays after church were spent on the porch reading the paper. Eventually she would reside at her family home in West Tisbury.
She was an active participant in the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, and thoroughly enjoyed singing in the choir. Her cousin Terry Meinelt recalled, “Jane saved the funnies all year and transported them from San Francisco to Martha’s Vineyard. She would take my sister and me shopping at Ben Franklin for prizes for the church fair. We were amazed at the money we could ‘spend’! We wrapped all of the items in those comics. These were placed between the pickets on the fence in front of the church on Fair day for children to select.”
West Tisbury provided the close ties of family and community that were important to Jane. Jane had no children of her own, however she delighted being in their company.
Jane served as entry clerk for the Fair for years. Neighbors recalled her striding off to the old Ag Hall, with her basket in hand and wearing sneakers, denim pedal pushers, striped cotton shirt, and a long-billed hat. Her great-grandfather, Henry L. Whiting, was a founder of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, whose first fair was held 150 years ago this year.
At her private memorial service on Monday, August 1, Ted Meinelt remembered that, “This is the closing day of the West Tisbury library book sale which Jane started over 50 years ago. It has been a significant annual fundraiser for the library and community.”
On Martha’s Vineyard Jane Newhall was an ardent supporter of many causes, including the Garden Club, the Chamber Music concert series, restoration of the Oak Bluffs carousel, and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.
Donations in her memory may be made to the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury or the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society.
She is survived by her dear friend, Anita Guerra, Whiting family members, California based-cousins, and bicoastal beagles: Daisy, BugleAnn, Poppy, and Benjamin.