MV Museum honors three for contributions to Island life

2013 Martha's Vineyard Medal recipients Barbara and Chris Murphy spoke at the MV Museum award ceremony. — Photo by Tony Omer

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum Monday presented its 2013 Martha’s Vineyard medals to two individuals and one family at a well-attended ceremony at the Federated Church in Edgartown.

The honorees included Sheldon Hackney of Vineyard Haven, chairman emeritus of the museum and a respected historian, educator, and humanist; art supporter Olga Hirshhorn of Vineyard Haven; and two generations of the Murphy family of Chilmark.

The museum introduced the Martha’s Vineyard Medal in 2009. It is awarded annually to leaders in the community in recognition of their outstanding commitment to preserving the history, arts, and culture of Martha’s Vineyard, according to a press release.

First to take the stage were Chris and Barbara Murphy of Chilmark on behalf of the Murphy family, which included the late artist Stan Murphy, and his wife, the late Polly Murphy. Museum education director Nancy Cole chronicled the family’s extensive involvement with the museum and the Island’s educational and art communities.

Chris and Barbara spoke about the educational functions of the museum and its importance as an Island museum, or as they called it, “Our museum.”

Island physician and theater patron Dr. Gerry Yukevich, a longtime friend of Olga Hirshhorn, praised her energetic support of not only the museum but of numerous other art and cultural projects on the Island including the Vineyard Playhouse. He recounted her remarkable life story and praised her work as a philanthropist and supporter of the arts. In her short acceptance remarks, Ms. Hirshhorn got a big laugh when she claimed her hearing was not good enough to have heard Mr. Yukevich’s remarks and thanked the museum and its staff for their good work.

The last presentation of the evening went to Sheldon Hackney. Longtime friend and seasonal Chilmark resident Vernon Jordan introduced Mr. Hackney. In remarks delivered in a cadenced, poetic manner, Mr. Jordan, a lawyer and presidential advisor, highlighted their relationship and Mr. Hackney’s commitment to education and public service.

He touched on the Mr. Hackney’s years as college president at the University of Pennsylvania and at Tulane University, and as President Clinton’s appointee as the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Mr. Hackney also served as museum chairman during the period in which the museum acquired its future home in Vineyard Haven.

Mr. Hackney whose illness prevented him from mounting the stage, looked on with friends and family as his son, Fain, an Island lawyer, accepted the award and read a touching thank you his father wrote for the occasion that concluded with his favorite expression, “Onward.”