Howard Coe, a longtime seasonal resident of Chilmark whose insatiable zeal for life inspired all who knew him, died Oct. 19 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston after a brief illness. He was 92.
The cause of death was complications from a subarchnoid hemorrhage.
Mr. Coe, who preferred to be known as Howard, was well known around the Vineyard and in his home town of Farmington, Conn., for his infectious joie de vivre, unrelenting interest in people, and deep appreciation for the simple joys of life. He was an accomplished businessman and dedicated affordable housing advocate, as well as an avid fisherman, hunter, world traveler, skier, and sailor.
Howard had a genuine interest in all who crossed his path. With his shock of white hair and warm smile, he enchanted everyone he met along the way. On the Vineyard, that included legions of friends garnered over almost a half-century of summers hitchhiking around the Island - one of his favorite pastimes - racing sailboats on Menemsha Pond, catching striped bass off Gay Head or simply walking up to strangers at a cocktail party and offering his hand and a perfunctory, "Hello, I'm Howard Coe." A wonderful influence on young people, he taught scores of children to tie rope knots, catch blue-claw crabs and fix broken fishing poles, and he charmed countless women half his age during long walks on the beach.
He had a profound appreciation for nature and a deep connection to it; he often called upon Island friends to join him on the beach for a sunrise skinny dip or a walk under the stars.
Perhaps above all else he loved messing around in boats.
He was a skilled fisherman and a crafty sailor, and loved to catch, cook - and eat - seafood, most notably establishing a reputation for his homemade clam chowder.
Howard was also known for true Yankee thrift, eschewing the new for the familiarity and practicality of the old. His self-repaired cars, boats, shirts and sweaters all served as testament to his frugality and unpretentious style. Irreparable was not a word in Howard's vocabulary; he relished a challenge to fix something that was broken, be it a crab net, an oarlock or leaky faucet.
Friends and relatives from around the country celebrated Howard's life at his funeral at the Abel's Hill Cemetery, Chilmark on Tuesday, Oct. 24. A remembrance followed at the Chilmark Community Center, where for over three hours more than 100 friends relived some of the memorable, often amusing, encounters with Howard.
A memorial service in Farmington is being planned for the near future.
Howard Herbert Coe was born Sept. 20, 1914, at his home in Fairhaven, Conn. After a childhood spent mostly in or around boats, he was graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1936 with a bachelor's degree in forestry. He later joined the Navy and served in World War II, rising to the rank of lieutenant junior grade.
Upon returning to the United States, he married Helen Reilly in 1944 and enrolled at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in New Haven, Conn., through the G.I. Bill. He earned his master's degree in 1946.
He found employment with the Stanley Works Corporation later that year and moved with Helen to Vermont.
There, he put his vast knowledge of wood to use in the company's mill that made their signature maple, birch and beech-handled tools. He was also put in charge of converting the mill from water power to electrical power and, after moving back to Connecticut in 1951, was involved in building the Salmon Fishway at the Rainbow Power Plant. Later he worked with Eric Sloane to help establish the Sloane-Stanley Museum in Kent, Conn. Eventually, he rose through the company to become the director of real estate and insurance, a position he held until his retirement from the company in 1980.
While at Stanley Works, Howard also played a lead role in the conservation of land along the Housatonic River, including Kent Falls and St. John's Ledges, an accomplishment he was most proud of.
Over the years Howard remained active in forestry as a member of the American Society of Foresters and the Connecticut Forest and Park Association in Middletown, Conn. He also served on the board of Connwood in Rockfall, Conn.
He was also active in his hometown of Farmington, where he enjoyed a long tenure as the chairman of the town's housing committee and as a member of the Farmington Recreation Association, helping to establish Winding Trails, a nature center. He served on the Farmington Land Trust and at one point was the chairman of the Farmington town council. He was also a dedicated member of the Masons.
In 1967, after more than a decade visiting the Island, Howard bought a summer cottage on lower Abel's Hill, at the edge of Chilmark Pond. When his wife, Helen, died in 1976, the small, rustic camp became his refuge.
Time never seemed to catch up with or slow down Howard, who enjoyed sailing, fishing, and strenuous work right up until his final days.
A true reflection of his spirit, Howard's last day on the Vineyard was a typical one: a skinny dip in the ocean after rising at six, a thorough read of the New York Times over lunch, an afternoon spent cutting down a tree and clearing the brush from behind his house before his weekly trip to his beloved "Dumptique" at the West Tisbury dump, and a long dinner with his grandson, Philip, before retiring to bed at 10:30 pm.
"A full day for anyone, let alone a 92-year old,"
Philip remarked. "But every day was just a joy for him."
He is survived by his children, GiGi Coe Robinson and her husband, Dan Robinson, of Grand Junction, Colo.; Carol Coe Fowler and her husband, Fred Fowler, of Grand Junction, Colo.; and Kathy Coe and her husband, Thomas Hollinger, of Washington, Conn. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Philip and Chas Hollinger, Ryan and Anita Robinson and Meg, Helen and Andrew Fowler and by his brother, Robert Coe of Branford, Conn.
Donations in Howard's name can be made to the following institutions: Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies c/o Office of Development, P.O. Box 2038, New Haven, CT 06521-2038; Winding Trails, 50 Winding Trails Road, Farmington, CT 06032., and the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.
Nora H. Linn
Nora H. Linn of the Bronx N.Y., and Oak Bluffs died peacefully in her 100th year on Oct. 15 in the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, N.Y., where she had resided for the last 14 months. She was the wife of Dr. Harry who predeceased her; mother of Victor and Judith, Robert and Ann; grandmother of Gregory and Lisa, Jason and Abby; and great grandmother of JJ, Emily and Zachary
Having lived her entire life in a series of New York City apartments, Nora initially came to her beloved Martha's Vineyard in 1953, first summering at the Mary Guerin Inn on Eastville Beach. She slowly accumulated sufficient savings, at the rate of $5 a week from her teachers salary, to purchase her Eastville dream cottage, "a house with a tree," in 1956. It was her pride and joy and she happily shared the small residence with family and friends. It was used as the core of an addition made in 1983 by her son and daughter-in-law that became first a three-, and more recently, four-generation home.
Nora loved many things about the Island; the [first] ferry ride to the Island where she shed all the cares of life, the old time ham & bean suppers, and the sumptuous buffets at the Harbor View Hotel and the outdoor classical music and dance concerts
Particularly, she loved the water; she 'dunked' frequently, and to her chagrin and lifelong embarrassment, never learned to swim. She took every opportunity to urge those all around her to try her favorite summer pastime.
Nora was nothing if not determined and she decided that education and learning would be at the core of her life. She graduated from NYU as a French major, continuing onto a masters degree from Columbia University's Teachers College, She initially taught and then directed at a cooperative nursery school, later shifting to the public school system teaching first grade until her retirement.
Rarely without a book, her interests were varied and included extensive travel (she spoke several languages), lectures, playing both the piano and the full family of recorders. There are few things that pleased her more than when her three great grandchildren began piano lessons on the instrument she gifted to them, the one she and both her sons played for decades. Her love of reading extended to her long commitment to the Vineyard Haven Public Library where she spent many happy years as an eager volunteer. When in New York, her endless curiosity brought her to the Museum of Natural History where she led school group tours.
Never one to shy away from a new challenge, though never entirely pleased with her results, Nora tried her hand at painting, pottery, and knitting. Evidence of some of her handiwork resides in the family Island house.
She was a woman of boundless intellectual enthusiasm devoted to learning and education; her fiercely independent life was blessed with a feisty spirit and a love of music, literature, and the arts.
She will be missed by many.
Contributions in her memory may be made to Vineyard Haven Public Library, RFD Box 139 A, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
Moshe Ofer of Jerusalem, Needham, and Edgartown, a retired officer of the Israel Foreign Ministry, died Nov. 3 at the age of 86. From 1968 to 1972 he served as the Israeli Consul-General in Boston.
Born in Germany, Moshe emigrated to Palestine when he was 15, and as a member of the Jewish Youth Movement, worked as a farm laborer until he and a small group founded the Kibbutz Hamadia in the hills above the Jordan Valley. He first came to the United States as an emissary of that movement and then undertook flight training in California. Upon returning to the newly-born state of Israel he became a Captain in the fledgling Israeli Air Force and flew small planes during the 1948 War of Independence. Later he attended Hebrew University in Jerusalem, ultimately joining the Foreign Ministry. In 1953 he was appointed Vice-Consul in New York, where he met and married his wife Aileen in 1954. He was transferred to the Israeli Embassy in Washington as Second Secretary and Principal Aide to Ambassador Abba Eban. His later postings included First Secretary-Counselor in London, Consul-General in Bombay, Zurich, and Boston, Minister-Counselor of Embassy in Ottawa, and delegate to the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. His last posting was Israel Minister-Plenipotentiary at The Hague, Netherlands. Between postings he served at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on the Western European and British Commonwealth desks among others. Following his retirement from the Foreign Ministry, he taught Middle Eastern government and politics at Northeastern University for ten years.
He is survived by his wife, his son David and daughter-in-law Leslie; his granddaughters Gabrielle and Sophia; and in Jerusalem, his brother Yakov and sister-in-law Chava, their children Yael and Nir, and four grand nieces. Funeral arrangements were private.
James R. Rogers
A committal service for James R. Rogers of Oak Bluffs, who died on Nov. 27, 2005, will be held on Sunday, Nov. 26, 3 pm at the Oak Grove Cemetery, Pacific Avenue, Oak Bluffs. Committal prayers will be offered by Fr. Michael Nagle, family and friends are invited.
Robert E. Reilly
Robert E. Reilly formerly of Onset died Nov.7 after a tractor-trailer accident in Connecticut.
Rob was born in Plymouth on January 14, 1975 and was graduated from Upper Cape Cod Regional Vocational High School from the marine technology division.
After high school he enlisted into the Marine Corps and while in boot camp on Parris Island, he aggravated a pre-existing injury and was given a medical discharge. He returned home to work for his friend Michael Lunedei as a truck driver and subcontractor for the United States Postal Service for six years. He also worked for Cape Cod Express for a short time before starting work for Cowan Systems from Baltimore, Md., one year ago.
Robert married Stephanie C. Townes on Aug. 5 at the lighthouse in Edgartown. His precious moments were spent with his daughter Peyton, and he was anxiously awaiting the birth of his second child.
Rob enjoyed the great outdoors any chance he had, to go camping, kayaking or mountain biking. He played drums and listened to country music and loved wearing his cowboy hat. He had a strong passion for NASCAR and driving trucks. All this was important to him, but most important to him was his family.
Robert leaves to survive him his wife, Stephanie and daughter, Peyton Reilly and his second child due in May; also by his sisters, Sheri Reilly of Sanford, Maine and Amanda Peckham of Akron, Ohio; and his nephew Matthew and many friends and family members.
His memorial service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2 pm, in the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs. A visitation will be at 1 pm prior to the service. Donations may be made in his memory to his children's educational fund at Dukes County Savings Bank, P.O. Box 188, Chilmark, MA 02535. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.
Joan S. McGurren
Joan S. (Smillie) McGurren, 63, formerly of Great Falls, Va., and now of Martha's Vineyard died unexpectedly on Nov. 13. She was the wife of Henry John "Jay" McGurren, Esq., and mother of Capt. Michael McGurren, USMC, of Camp Lejeune, and Katherine Carroll McGurren of Richmond, Va.
Her memorial service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, in the West Tisbury Congregational Church at 1 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to one's favorite charity. Arrangements by Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Oak Bluffs, MA. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.
Hazel M. Colaneri
Hazel Marchant (Smith) Colaneri, 86, of Vineyard Haven died on Nov. 14, at Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She was the wife of Humberto Colaneri and mother of Michael Colaneri of West Tisbury and John Robert Colaneri of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
A graveside service will be held on Thursday, Nov. 16, in the Oak Grove Cemetery, State Road, Vineyard Haven at 12 noon. Donations may be made in her memory to a charity of one's choice.
Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information. A full obituary will follow in another edition.