Grace loved life on Martha’s Vineyard, her family, her cats and selling Avon. She came from a simpler time and humble beginnings. Her foster mother, Mabel Hughes, a native of Oak Bluffs returned to Oak Bluffs from Hingham to care for her ailing mother when Grace was six. Mabel’s mother died shortly after Mabel’s return to Martha’s Vineyard, but she and Grace would stay on the Island for the rest of their lives. Her mother was active politically in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Methodist Church. Mabel worked as a cook in several local restaurants and Inns. To help her mother make ends meet, Grace began working at the age of 13, setting up trays for patients and washing dishes at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, earning five dollars a week. It wasn’t until 1935 that their home would have electricity.
Despite the hard times they endured trying to make ends meet during The Depression, Grace loved living on the Island. On the weekends she would take a quarter she had earned from working and head downtown and indulge in an ice cream cone, a bag of popcorn, a couple of rides on the Flying Horses, and a quick swim at the Inkwell.
Grace would go on to graduate from Oak Bluffs High in 1936 with seven other students. Initially, after graduating, she worked inland, but always came back to the place she loved, Oak Bluffs. One summer she met and began dating her future husband, George C. Frye. George, his two brothers, and his father, George W. Frye, owned and operated a shoeshine and cobbler shop on Circuit Avenue. For 48 years this business flourished and acted as a social spot for men to gather and swap stories. Three generations of Fryes would work in the shop in the spot that would eventually become a part of Mad Martha’s.
When Grace met George, he was a widower with two small girls, Grace and Susan. They would marry in 1940 and later have a son, Vincent. While George worked in the cobbler shop, Grace raised her three children. She served as Secretary to the Trinity United Methodist Church and had secretarial jobs with the Better Homes and Gracious Living Clubs.
She had an affinity for selling things and, based on a friend’s recommendation, she began selling Avon Products in 1956. She would go on to sell Avon Products for over 50 years, building up a loyal base of customers and winning countless awards. Her living room was filled with china cups and porcelain figurines for making the President’s Club and Honor Society sales goals. In 1995 she was awarded the sales district’s “Spirit of Avon” award for her lifelong service and accomplishments, and her attitude of giving, sharing, and selflessness. Avon would later give her a Tiffany gold watch for her years of service.
After her husband died in 1968, Grace never remarried. She focused on her family, her Siamese cats, the friends she had made on the Island, and taking in summer boarders. She took great pride in her house, and loved tending to her flowers. Grace also loved to travel, which often included an annual trip to California to visit her three children and a short stop in Reno or Las Vegas where she could indulge in a little gambling. Her travels would also take her to such far away places as Egypt, Panama, and Tahiti.
She is survived by her daughter Grace Reeves, son-in law Larkin Reeves, son Vincent Frye, her three grandsons, Edward Harris, Ralph Harding, and Frank Frye, and her two great grandchildren, Chelsea Harris and Eric Frazier, and great, great granddaughter, Eris Frazier.
A service was held on February 18, in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, followed by burial in the Oak Grove Cemetery, Oak Bluffs.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that Memorial donations may be made in Grace’s name to the Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O Box 2549. Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.