A familiar face will be missed

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To the Editor:

The Island recently lost a familiar face, and we already miss her terribly. Karen Harris washed ashore decades ago, and found a place for herself among many communities throughout the years.

She was a constant presence in the barns and at the horse shows when her daughter, Kate, was growing up in West Tisbury. She spent years in the West Tisbury School and as a Sunday school teacher at the West Tisbury Congregational Church. Karen took great pleasure in her role there, and spoke especially fondly of the Christmas pageants that she helped to organize. The connections she felt to the children of the Island were something that she held close to her heart; she was truly happy to hear of students’ and friends’ successes and, as the years went by, the successes of their sons and daughters. She relished her time at the Menemsha Texaco, too, where she could collect and share all the news and gossip of that up-Island outpost.

Most recently, however, Karen was well known as a longtime bookseller at Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven. She had a tremendous knack for matching books to readers, and her recommendations were trusted and sought by residents and visitors alike. Karen was rightfully proud of this talent, and nothing delighted her more than talking with other readers about books. She could spend the whole day telling stories, bringing characters to life. In this way, she was herself a reliable and comforting character in the story of this Island. Her presence on Main Street and in the bookstore was a meaningful addition to the fabric of the community, and her absence is a true loss. We have felt this particularly keenly as our customers and friends have stopped by to express their shock and sadness, and we’ve taken comfort in these shared moments of grief and appreciation.

We wish to thank everyone who has stopped by to talk about and remember our friend Karen, and we encourage those who knew her to share their memories of her in a guest book we have at the front desk that we plan to give to her daughter.

As Karen would say, “Go forth and read.”

Bunch of Grapes staff

Vineyard Haven