Ann Bernard Smith passed away July 11 in her home on Curtis Lane. She was 91. She followed her husband, Nelson Crosby Smith, who died at 92 on April 5.
The eldest child of William Alfred Bernard, who was born and raised in Oak Bluffs and Joanne MacIver, who was from Quebec, Canada; Ann was born in Oak Bluffs on May 16, 1926. Ann was joined by sister Mary Isobel in 1927 (married to Stanley J. Marshall), who predeceased Ann in 2016; and in 1930 by brother Alexander Joseph, who died in 2007. Ann spent her early years in Oak Bluffs, where father Bill Bernard held, among other positions, that of water superintendent during the 1940s. Joanne MacIver Bernard was a cook of some account on the Island, working for several prominent summer families.
While in her teens, Ann landed a job as a nanny and cook for a summer family and wound up accompanying them back to Ohio. When they moved to Brookline, Ann went with them. In her mid-20s she returned to the Island to help care for her father, who died in 1950. It was around that time that she met World War II veteran, fisherman, jack of many trades, and Islander, Nelson Crosby Smith; they married on March 17, 1951.
In a little red farmhouse at the end of Meetinghouse Road, Nelson and Ann started a
family. In 1952 came William Bernard Smith, today of East Falmouth; in 1953, Nelson West Smith of Oak Bluffs, until recently of Edgartown; and in 1956, Susan Ann Smith of Vineyard Haven. Katama was a lonely place for the young mother (sans driver’s license) to be stranded with young ones while Captain Smith was fishing offshore or skippering yachts in Florida during the winter. So, in the late 1950s, at Ann’s insistence, the family moved into town to Chase Road, settling in a house built by John Black. And on April 5, 1967, 50 years to the day before Captain Smith’s death, he and Ann purchased their home on Curtis Lane.
Like her mother, Ann was an accomplished cook. She was perhaps best known for her rum cake, “a borrowed patch of Heaven that sent you to the stars,” according to family friend Pia Webster.
Like most Islanders, Ann Smith never stopped working. “For years,” her son Nelson said, “she’d be up at the crack of dawn to go scalloping at Cape Pogue” with the captain. “She hated it,” he added, “but it was a living.” Then she would head back and work the rest of the day as a housekeeper at Mattakesett, where Tom Wallace and Alan Schweikert were young colleagues. She was the head housekeeper at Mattakesett from the late 1960s to 1980. Then she moved to the Harbor View Hotel, where she worked until the early 2000s, when she retired.
Ann rode her bicycle everywhere until she no longer could. Then she walked, to the market and the post office, often in the company of her cairn terrier Sydney, the last of many pets who adored her. She loved to take the VTA bus to Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. Often, she would feed, do laundry for, and give haircuts to some of the less fortunate people in town.
Ann Smith is remembered as a quiet woman married to a most talkative man who nonetheless could hold her own when the facts of a story needed to be verified. In her last days Ann enjoyed the companionship and good cheer of the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living’s Supportive Day Program, and her family is deeply grateful to executive director Leslie Clapp and her staff for their service and kindness. Donations to the center in Ann’s memory may be sent to PO Box 1729, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.