Gay Moore Phillipps Nelson died peacefully at Long Hill in Edgartown on May 13, 2018.
She grew up in Farmington, Conn., and attended Oxford School and Smith College in the 1950s. A caregiver of children, parents, siblings, friends, and animals, she was a keen observer of people and nature, and loved writing, especially poetry. She lived in New York City after she married Pete Phillipps, and attended a writer’s group which encouraged her to publish her poems. She and Pete had four children: Loch, Christy, Beach, and Ben. The family sailed their 1929 Alden schooner, Voyager, most weekends and summers, and frequently came to the Vineyard, where she had spent summers as a child in Harthaven.
After her divorce, Gay moved to the Vineyard with Art Nelson, and continued writing. Her collection of poems, “Pond,” was published in 1978. She participated in poetry readings with Vineyard poets for several years. She celebrated her wedding with Art, and they had a child, Olivia, in 1980. She lived next door to her brother, Ben, and their two families often had joint gatherings that included other family members and friends. Gay was the West Tisbury children’s librarian for many years, and entertained the children with her story time readings and Halloween and Christmas parties and costumes. She charmed adults with her Christmas glogg concoction. Children were her greatest love — a good listener, she was everyone’s mother, and will be greatly missed.
Gay was predeceased by her daughter Beach, her nephew Josh, and her brother Ben, who died on May 10. She is survived by her husband Art, children Loch, Christy, Ben, and Olivia and their spouses, her grandchildren, and her siblings Martha, Sandy and his wife, Mary, and sister-in-law, Paddy.
Haiku (from “Pond”)
in the winter
snow falls into the sea
and covers islands
A celebration of Gay’s life will be held at the West Tisbury Congregational Church on Sunday, July 1, 2018, at 2 pm. A reception in the parish hall will follow the service.
Donations in Gay’s memory can be made to the West Tisbury Public Library, and to College Visions, 131 Washington St., Providence, RI 02903.