Tisbury cites former selectman Tom Rabbitt, praises Officer Marathas

The Tisbury selectmen dedicated a chair in memory of former selectman Thomas J. Rabbitt. Family members who attended the ceremony included, from left, Thomas Rabbitt Jr., Barbara Keeling, Esther Cummens, Jayne Stanek, and Clara Rabbitt. — Photo by Janet Hefler

In separate ceremonies Tuesday evening, Tisbury selectmen dedicated a Governor Carver-style chair in honor of former selectman Thomas J. Rabbitt, who died in 1981, and they honored Tisbury Police Officer Jason Marathas for his successful efforts on May 9 to save a man from Oak Bluffs Harbor waters.

“Mr. Rabbitt served the longest term in town history, from 1934 to 1970, through the depression years, pre-war, during World War II and the post war-era,” selectman chairman Jeff Kristal said. “Upon his retirement from town service in 1970 at the age of 80, the town report was dedicated to him.”

The ceremonial recognition to honor former selectmen was initiated by former town administrator Peter Fohlin in 1996. The Governor Carver chairs are purchased with donations, usually from friends and family, and a plaque is added with the honoree’s name and years of service.

Mr. Kristal also acknowledged several members of Mr. Rabbitt’s family who attended the ceremony. They included his son Thomas Rabbitt Jr., daughter-in-law Clara Rabbitt and granddaughter Jayne Stanek of Vineyard Haven, and his daughter Esther Cummens and granddaughter Barbara Keeling of Naples, Florida.

Later in the meeting, at Police Chief Dan Hanavan’s recommendation, the selectmen approved an order of commendation for Officer Marathas.

As Chief Hanavan recounted, Officer Marathas responded to a call for mutual aid at about 4 am from Oak Bluffs where a man had fallen into the harbor. Officer Marathas jumped in and pulled him from the frigid water.

“I think what you have done and the example you showed down there is a prime example of what’s happened in the last couple of years and the turnaround in the police department, and I thank you for that, and congratulate you for this [commendation],” Mr. Kristal said.