Posted July 12, 2007

Donald Graves

Donald Graves

Donald "Donny" Graves died suddenly on June 28 in Oak Bluffs, of natural causes. An intensely private person, he is remembered this week by those who knew him well as a self-reliant, honest, and practical man who preferred to live simply and frugally. He was a quiet man who spoke seldom, but when he spoke, people listened, for he had an insightful mind and a quick wit. He was a master cabinet-maker.

Mr. Graves was born Dec. 28, 1951, in Canada, the son of Lesley G. and Marion Graves. When he was a small child, his family moved to Somerville, where Mr. Graves was graduated from Somerville High School. He left home at 18 and until his death spent most of his time on Martha's Vineyard. Mr. Graves's sister Elaine Shores remembers that Mr. Graves once came home to Somerville with a 42-foot sailboat, which he parked in the family's front yard. But his plan to restore the boat and sail the world never materialized, and he returned to the Island, where he lived a Spartan and nomadic lifestyle.

His close friend James "Jimmy B." Burghof remembers camping with Mr. Graves off Old County Road in West Tisbury for seven summers. "I learned a lot from him," Mr. Burghof, now of Pelham, N.H., says. "He had a deep understanding of many practical things: mechanics, woods, plastics, and other things. For the campsite he made wonderful wood cabinets with leather hinges that couldn't rust. From Donny I developed a penchant for getting things done without wasting a lot of time talking."

Holly Alaimo, a long-time friend, recalls that Mr. Graves installed for her a second-hand screen door that came from work he was doing on Julia Childs's house in Cambridge. "For 15 years," Ms. Alaimo says with a laugh, "we had Julia Childs's screen door."

During recent years, Mr. Graves's fiercely guarded independence became a cause for concern in the Oak Bluffs and Island communities, though not to Mr. Graves himself, who consistently refused most offers of support. However, in a community effort that Oak Bluffs selectman Ron DiOrio calls, "heart-warming," a kind of respectful safety net was created to look out for Mr. Graves. Mr. DiOrio cites Lieut. Tim Williamson and Chief Erik Blake of the Oak Bluffs police, Oak Bluffs town administrator Mike Dutton, Walter Burke of Martha's Vineyard Community Services, and state caseworker Ann Case, among others.

Roy Grant, who provided emergency shelter and was designated to distribute federal Social Security Disabilities Income (SSDI), comments that although Mr. Graves did not want to accept the SSDI money due him, there are enough funds accumulated so that he will be paying for his own funeral arrangements, a fact which Mr. Grant feels would have pleased Mr. Graves.

Mr. Graves is survived by his sisters, Elaine Shores of Nashua, N.H., and Nancy Caraco of Billerica, and by two nephews and a niece.

A funeral service is planned for 11 am on Friday, July 20, at the "little bridge" (the one closest to Oak Bluffs) on Beach Road between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. Mr. Graves's ashes will be scattered on Nantucket Sound. DC

Alan B. Crossland

Alan B. Crossland

Alan Blake Crossland of Edgartown was born February 21, 1961, and died on July 6 at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. He was the youngest of three boys born to Suzanne B. and F. Wallace Crossland of Washington Crossing, Pa. The family moved to the Vineyard and Alan attended Edgartown Grade School for his seventh and eighth grade years where he formed some of his lifelong friendships. He moved with his parents to Florida, graduated from Clearwater High School and attended St. Petersburg Junior College before returning to the Island. He worked with his brother Mark in the landscaping business before going out on his own as a carpenter and then joined Eric Magnuson in the building trades. Their partnership lasted until 2001 and he then worked several years on his own until ill health ultimately prevented him from working full-time. Until his death, he consulted on a number of projects with his well-known attention to details.

One of his greatest pleasures was in his service to the town of Edgartown as a volunteer fireman and he will be remembered as one of the lead men in pulling the old pumper through the parade route on the Fourth of July. He served for many years.

In his last years he was in great discomfort with back trouble and heart disease but remained a caring son, brother, and father. He is survived by his brothers, Mark and Kurt, Mark's wife Bernadette; numerous nieces and nephews; his mother, Suzanne; and his daughter, Caitlin.

A graveside service will be held Saturday, July 14 at 10 am at the Edgartown New West Side Cemetery, Robinson Road, with the Rev. Walter Rogero of the Vineyard Assembly of God officiating.

Donations may be made in his memory to the Edgartown Fireman's Association/Ambulance Fund, P.O. Box 737, Edgartown, MA 02539.

Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit for online guest book and information.

Gloria R. Jeffers

A graveside service for Gloria Rose Jeffers who died peacefully at her Edgartown home on June 3 will be held on Saturday, July 21, 1 pm at the New Westside Cemetery, Robinson Road, Edgartown. Memorial donations in Mrs. Jeffer's memory may be made to the Island Food Pantry, P.O. Box 1874, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568. Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Oak Bluffs.

Evelyn M. Silvia

Evelyn M. Silvia

Evelyn M. (Campos) Silvia, 89, a resident at Windemere Nursing Home, formerly of Vineyard Haven, died on July 8. She was the wife of Adrian Silvia.

She is survived by her son, Rodney Silvia of Oak Bluffs and her daughter, Eileen Threm of Tucson, Ariz.; and her sisters, Florence Lavelle of Falmouth and Anna Medeiros of Oak Bluffs; and her granddaughter, Kelly Marie Silvia of Oak Bluffs. She was predeceased by her husband.

Her Mass of Christian burial will be held in St. Augustine's Church, Franklin Street, Vineyard Haven on Friday, July 13, at 11 am.

Visiting hours will be in the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs on Thursday, July 12, from 6 to 8 pm.

Donations may be made in her memory to Good Shepherd Parish of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 1058, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, or Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, P.O. Box 1747, or Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 2549, both in Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

Kathleen F. Mayhew

Kathleen F. Mayhew

Kathleen Frances (Brennan) Mayhew, a lifelong resident of Tisbury, died on July 6, 2007, at her home after a year-long illness. She was 85.

She was born in Tisbury on February 28, 1922, the daughter of Chester L. Brennan and Catherine (Kiley) Brennan.

She attended Tisbury School and was graduated from Tisbury High School in the Class of 1939. She then earned a degree in business from Bryant College in Rhode Island.

She worked at several Island businesses and as an operator for the Telephone Company before a career at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital in accounting and in the Development Office.

Kathy loved her family and friends, typically more concerned for their happiness and well-being than her own. She was a soft-spoken and gentle person who loved watching the birds on the feeder outside of her picture window. She loved flowers and music and there was always a family dog or two that brought her joy.

Kathy enjoyed packing a lunch to bring to the beach and was an avid and excellent swimmer, leaving hardly a ripple as she swam through the swells. 

With her grandchildren she would hunt and gather white pebbles, which have accumulated over the years in her driveway.

Kathy loved Martha's Vineyard, her home for 85 years. She rarely missed a parade, the fireworks, or Illumination Night. She always enjoyed dancing and dining out. She brought enthusiasm and cheerfulness to those around her.

Kathy enjoyed watching ball games with her sons and was always interested in and proud of her children's accomplishments. She was happy and blessed to have her brother Tom back home on the Island for the past 10 years and along with her sisters Gert and Fay had good times and fun card games often at Gert's house in Edgartown.

Kathy enjoyed visiting her daughters Mindy and Jeanne and her sister Jeanne in Florida, where she enjoyed the beaches and her grandchildren.

Kathy didn't otherwise often leave the Island and never drove a car off-Island.

When a family member would leave the Island, Kathy was known to stand at the dock or at the airport waving goodbye until they were clear out of sight.

She is survived by her loving children, Thomas W. Mayhew of Tisbury, L. Michael Mayhew, Jr., of Norwell, Jeanne Gravley of Viera, Fla., and Melinda Lock of Melbourne, Fla.; her former husband, Lloyd M. Mayhew, Sr., of Viera, Fla.; seven grandchildren, Kenn, Kurt, Kelly, Kaylee, Eric, Amanda, and Anna; six great-grandchildren; her sister, Jeanne Clark of Satellite Beach, Fla., and her brother, Thomas. L. Brennan of Tisbury; many nieces and nephews of the Mayhew, Brennan, Shaw, Andrade, Dodge, Mercer and Cullen families. She was predeceased by her sisters, Gertrude Brock and Fay Andrade.

Her graveside service will be held on Saturday, July 14, at 12 noon in Oak Grove Cemetery, State Road, Tisbury, officiated the Rev. Michael Nagle. There will be a procession from the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs beginning at 11 am. Visiting hours will be held Friday, July 13, from 5 to 7 pm.

Donations may be made in her memory to Vineyard Nursing Association, P.O. Box 2568, or to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, P.O. Box 1477, both in Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

Visit for online guest book and information.

Betty M. Hiller

Betty M. Hiller, 83, of Teaberry Lane, Edgartown, died peacefully at the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Jess T., and Constance R. Hiller, East Greenwich, R.I., on July 4, after a long, courageous struggle with lung cancer. She was the beloved wife of Jess T. Hiller II, for 58 years.

Betty was born on April 15, 1924, in Tunis Mills, Md., to Clifton and Elizabeth (Dadds) Murray. She is survived by her husband; brother, Carl, of Ocala, Fla.; five children, Jess Thompson III of East Greenwich, R.I., Douglas Walton of Charlottesville, Va., Richard Benton of Blacksburg, Va., Geoffrey Beckwith of Parkton, Md., and Beth Ann Hiller of Naples, Fla.; and eleven grandchildren. She was predeceased by brothers Louis and Edward Murray and sisters, Nelly Dunn, Sally Allen, and Reva Spurray.

Prior to her marriage, Betty was an executive secretary on the Baltimore Sun papers. After marriage and during 30 years raising her family in Towson, Md., Betty was deeply involved in the social activities of the Church of the Good Shepherd there. Following her husband's retirement, they moved to Edgartown in 1991, where she enjoyed gardening and travel.

A memorial service will be held on August 25 at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, St. Michael's, Md., with interment in the columbarium of Good Shepherd Church, Towson. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the charity of your choice.

Ruth M. Merrill

Ruth Meader Merrill died of pancreatic cancer on June 8 at her Campground cottage in Oak Bluffs.

She was born in Leominster on April 12, 1918, and lived in many New England towns during her youth. She spent her adult life in West Hartford, Conn., and Lancaster. She was an active member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and lived a life of service to others. In recent years she wintered in Florida but considered the Vineyard her home. She was a member of the Campground community for 69 years especially enjoying the Wednesday evening community sings and Bible studies. Ruth participated in the activities at the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging, making friends with summer visitors and year-round residents alike. She enjoyed teaching her handicraft skills to others.

She was predeceased by her husband, Donald, in 1954, and by her daughter, Judy, in 1985. Survivors include son, David and Ilga Merrill of Plainville, Conn.; daughter, Beth and Jack Currie of South Lancaster, and daughter, Janice Merrill of La Crescenta, Calif.; her son-in-law Peter Contompasis and his wife Betty, and two special nieces, Marsha Lyon of Putnam, Conn.; and Kim Kelly of Clinton. She delighted in her10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Her dear friend Malcolm Grossman of Yosemite, Calif., with whom she shared many great travel adventures, also survives her.

She is survived by her siblings, Marjorie Peters of Peachtree, Ga.; Pauline Davis of Putnam, Conn.; Ray Meader of Tolland, Conn.; Jane Olschfskie of Orlando, Fla.; and Richard Meader of Yucapia, Calif.

A memorial service will be held on July 21 at 11 am in the Trinity Methodist Church on the grounds of the Martha's Vineyard Camp-Meeting Association.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ruth's memory to the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging Quilt Fund, P.O. Box 1379 or the Vineyard Nursing Association, P.O. Box 2568, both in Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

Arrangements were under the care of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit for online guest book and information.

Sherman K. Okun

Sherman K. Okun died on July 9, at his home in Aquinnah. He was the husband of Dr. Barbara (Frank) Okun.

His funeral service will be held on Friday, July 13 at 2pm in the Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center, Centre Street, Vineyard Haven and burial will follow in the Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Cemetery, Spring Street, Vineyard Haven. Donations may be made in his memory to Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit for online guest book and information.