Obituaries

Posted April 26, 2007

Mary W. Brown

Mary W. Brown

Mary Perkins Wilson Brown died peacefully on April 17, at home with her children by her side.

Mary, or "Perk" as she was often called, was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Nov. 26, 1919. Her father, William Arnot Wilson, was her first and greatest love, and her childhood was happy and joyous despite the economic hardships of the times. She married Daniel P. Brown on May 16, 1942. After he returned from service in the United States Navy, his work took the family from city to city until they settled in the Chicago area in 1955.

Perk was a quiet, intelligent, interested person. Her journals of travels throughout the world are observant, humorous, and enlightening. She served as the president of the Junior League when they lived in Philadelphia, and she volunteered for any kind of service she could give to others. She loved to solve crossword puzzles, played bridge as often as she could find a game, and read avidly. She was noted for her colorful shoes and clothes.

Perk first came to the Vineyard when she was eight years old. Her aunt, Jane Wilson, invited the family to join hers in a visit to her sister Helen Mayhew's house in Chilmark. Perk and her cousins and their cousins and friends had a wonderful time together. In her old age, she got a painting by Allen Whiting of a barn she remembered from summers with Johnny Mayhew, Mike Athearn, Willy Huntington and others as Johnson Whiting mowed the field nearby.

After Perk was married, her mother, Laura "Polly" Wilson, moved to the Vineyard full-time. Perk, Dan, and their children, Put and Polly, spent every summer with her mother and developed a great love for the Island. After Dan's death in 2001, Perk moved to the Vineyard and lived in the house her mother and second husband Brewer Corcoran had built in 1956. She resumed her volunteer roles with the hospital and reading to schoolchildren until her health no longer permitted it.

She leaves her children, Daniel Putnam "Put" Brown, Jr., and his wife, Nannie, of West Granby, Conn., and Mary "Polly" Rawson Brown, of Vineyard Haven; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 5, at 4:30 pm, at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury. Perk would be honored to have donations in her name sent to either the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, P.O. Box 3000, PMB 3111, West Tisbury, MA 02575; the Tisbury Volunteer Ambulance Association, P.O. Box 1469, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

Margaret D. Conover

Margaret D. Conover

Margaret D. Conover died on April 8, at age 94, generous and resilient to her last breath.

The daughter of Genevive Rust and Bradford Darrach, Margaret was born in Elizabeth, N.J., on Feb. 14, 1913.

She spent her childhood summers in Madison, Conn., with her sisters, Mary and Ann, and a cousin, Jane Bannerman. Margaret later moved to New York City where she met her husband Richard ("Dick"). After marrying in 1951, they settled in West Hartford, Conn., in 1953, where Dick worked for Pratt & Whitney, and they raised their two sons, Richard, Jr., and Bradford.

After a stay at the Phinney farm in the mid-1950s, Margaret and Dick discovered Chappaquiddick. Since 1957, the Conover house on Chappy has been a summer refuge to many friends and an extended family, including Margaret's surviving cousins, Jane and Ann Bannerman, and nieces and nephews, Cheryl Garrett; Keith, Brad, Marg, and Ann Rodney; Tom, Bob, and Susan Rush; and their families.

Margaret's son, Richard, settled in West Tisbury with his wife, Veronica, and children, Richard, Jr., and Madeline. Her son, Bradford, resides in New York City and Chappaquiddick.

Margaret suffered a stroke in 1991. A year later, Dick died. After a returning to live in New York City for several years and then in West Tisbury, Margaret, in 2000, moved to the assisted living home, Long Hill, in Edgartown. The family is greatly appreciative to the entire staff at Long Hill, where Margaret spent her last seven years, and is particularly thankful for the unwavering commitment of Elizabeth Sandland and Nancy Nevin.

Although Margaret came of age during the depression and did not attend college, she was a voracious reader with a profound interest in human psychology, theatre, and the arts. When she challenged conventional thinking, often on issues of religion, civil rights, war and peace, it was usually in her kitchen and accompanied by her wonderful cooking.

Margaret's enthusiasm for life, love of learning, nurturing spirit, and commitment to issues of social justice were contagious and continue to inspire many. In accord, donations may be made to a gift registry in her name at Heifer International, www.heifer.org, or other charitable organization of your choice. A celebration of her life is planned for later this summer.

Kenneth J. Smith

Kenneth J. Smith

The Rev. Kenneth J. Smith, minister emeritus of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha's Vineyard, died at his retirement home in Penney Farms, Fla., on March 21. He had recently celebrated his 90th birthday.

The Rev. Smith was born in Indiana, the son of Jack and Myrtle Smith. Of a strong Lutheran background, the Rev. Smith discovered Unitarianism at Wittenberg College, but before attending Meadville Theological School at the University of Chicago, he became a Conscientious Objector and nurse during World War II. Further study followed at the London School of Economics and Social Philosophy.

He served his first church in Duluth, Minn., for seven years and then traveled extensively in Asia and Africa. Before coming home, he married Judy Creed of South Africa, thus acquiring two stepdaughters. He later served Universalist churches on Long Island and New Jersey, helping to guide them into the merger of Unitarians and Universalists in 1961.

The Rev. Smith further studied at New York University. His lifelong interest in promoting peace and equality led him to chair committees to further the efforts for racial equality in the 1960s while living in Philadelphia where he ministered to the Ethical Culture Society.

The Rev. Smith came to be the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha's Vineyard in 1977 where he served until his retirement ten years later. He was then appointed minister emeritus. He was very active in the Vineyard Community as a member of the Great Books Club and the Martha's Vineyard Peace Council. The Rev. Smith had a life-long interest in theater and eagerly attended many Vineyard productions. His first marriage ended before he came to the Vineyard. In 1984 he married Ruth Luening who predeceased him.

Memorial gifts may be directed to the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 1236, Vineyard Haven, MA, 02568 or to the Martha's Vineyard Peace Council, c/o Sarah Nevin, RR Box 351A, Edgartown, MA, 02539.

Walter L. Cook Jr.

Walter Leo Cook of Oak Bluffs, formerly of Malden and Wakefield, died on April 20. He was 86. Walter was born on July 26, 1920 in Chelsea and raised in Everett. Walter was married to Ruth G. Lockwood on October 16, 1942.

In December 1942, he entered the United States Coast Guard as an apprentice seaman and was discharged in December 1945 as a boatswain's mate second class. Walter was an employee of the Monsanto Chemical Company in Everett from 1940 until his retirement. Walter and his family resided in Malden from 1946 to 1976 and in Wakefield from 1976 to1993. During those years, Walter was an active member of the First Parish in Malden, Universalist and the Mount Vernon Lodge of Masons in Malden as well as the Wakefield Retired Men's Club. Walter and Ruth were long-time summer visitors to Martha's Vineyard. Following the death of his wife, Ruth, in 1993, Walter moved to Oak Bluffs to live with his son David and family. Walter became a resident of Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in 1999.

Walter is survived by his son, David Cook of Oak Bluffs and his wife, Marguerite; a daughter Roberta Cook of Alexandria, Va.; two granddaughters, Natalie Krauthamer and her husband Mike, and Allyson Metell and her husband Chad; great-grandchildren David Krauthamer and Annabelle Metell.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, P.O. Box 1747, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 or Alzheimer's Services of Cape Cod & the Islands, Inc., 712 Main Street, Hyannis, MA 02601. A memorial service will held on Friday, April 27, at 2:30 pm at Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Oak Bluffs. Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Oak Bluffs.