Obituaries

Posted July 26, 2007

Joseph C. Mello

Joseph C. Mello

Joseph Corrigan "JC" Mello died on July 17, after a lengthy battle with COPD. JC was born Sept. 3, 1946 on the Vineyard and was the son of Joseph Cabral Mello and Patricia Corrigan Mello.

JC grew up along the marshes of Sengekontacket Pond where his parents kept a summer camp. Winters he lived in the shadows of the whaling captain's homes, which probably inspired him toward his own career in shipping. As a young boy, he loved to be on the water where he sailed and opened scallops every day after school. JC worked for Norton and Estabrook's boatyard where he gained knowledge of rigging and boat maintenance. As a teen he raced on the Pretty Marie with Hugh Bullock. JC graduated in 1964 from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School and went on to study drafting and mechanical engineering in Boston. From there he studied at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. It was there that he met his future wife, racing Shields for the sailing team.

He graduated in 1968 and started as 3rd mate on the SS African Star for Farrell Lines Steamship Company to West Africa. Eventually he became Captain aboard the Austral Rainbow, Export Champion, and Ashley Lykes for Lykes Lines and Central Gulf. His travels took him all over the globe, on every ocean, and through all the locks including the Great Lakes, Panama, and the Suez.

JC married Deborah in 1971 and from 1975 - 1980 he left shipping to captain the yacht Cruzan for Fairleigh Dickinson, traveling from Edgartown to the Caribbean each year. JC returned to deep sea in 1980 and became involved with the rapid ready deployment force for the Air Force, stationed at times in Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, carrying munitions and smart bombs for the Kosovo-Bosnia conflict, operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, for which he received the Merchant Marine Expedition ARY medal. JC retired in 2000. He was a proud member of the Boston Marine Society and the Council of American Master Mariners.

His great joys were his children, Cory and Jody, and his wife of 36 years, Deborah. He was also passionate about sailing, gardening, and reading about history and world affairs.

Captain Mello was predeceased by his sister, Julie, and his father, Joe. He is survived by his wife, Deborah, children Corrigan and Jody Alene, brother, Patrick, and mother, Patricia.

His Mass of Christian Burial was held in St. Elizabeth's Church, Main Street, Edgartown on July 25. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Friends of the Edgartown Library, P.O. Box 5249, Edgartown, MA 02539. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.

Donald M. Sennott

A lifetime summer resident of Oak Bluffs, Donald M. Sennott died on July 18 in Providence, R.I.

Born in Arlington in 1928, he graduated from Brown University in 1952 where he still holds University records in hockey.

Don was a Marine Lieutenant serving in the Korean War, and was married in 1956 to Claire Fredette of Pittsburg, Pa. They have four children: Siobhan McDonnell of Portsmouth, R.I., Sheila Sennott of Oak Bluffs, Sean Sennott of Providence, R.I., and Elisa Sennott of Watertown.

Don is also survived by five loving grandchildren, Jamieson Sennott, Dennis Lyle, Mary and John Vogle, of Oak Bluffs.

He served as special administrative assistant to the late Rhode Island senator, John H. Chafee, for 25 years.

Funeral arrangements are made under the care of Monahan Drabble Sherman Funeral Home in Providence, R.I. The funeral was held on July 24, at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Oak Bluffs.

Bernice Benway

A graveside service for Bernice (Tilton) Benway, who died on March 25, will be held on Saturday, July 28, 1:10 pm at the Oak Grove Cemetery, Vineyard Haven. Memorial donations may be made to Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Oak Bluffs.

Henry A. Slaughter, Jr.

Henry Anton Slaughter, Jr., died on July 18, from prostate cancer at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital. He was 76. He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, brothers, and sisters. A private graveside service was held on Saturday, July 21 in Oak Grove Cemetery, Vineyard Haven. Donations may be made in his memory to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

Philip R. Craig

Family and friends of Philip Craig, Vineyard resident and well-known mystery writer, are invited to attend a celebration of his life, hosted by the Craig family, at the Martha's Vineyard Rod and Gun club in Edgartown on Saturday, August 4 from 12 noon to 4 pm.

Organizers said it is important to understand that the event is not a funeral but "a gathering of friends and family enjoying the fellowship, good food and good drink that Phil delighted in his entire life."

Dress is casual, and the mood will be upbeat.

The event will include time for remembrances from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Phil's strict instructions were that there be no eulogies, but the family would welcome the telling of anecdotes and stories or the singing of a good song of the sort Phil would have loved hearing.

Contributions of finger foods, on disposable plates, would be very welcome. Parking at the club located at the end of Third Street off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road is limited, and the family requests that people car-pool if they can.

Elizabeth Keniston

Elizabeth Keniston died on July 14 in Bradenton, Fla. She was born May 3, 1925, to Daniel and Lillian Manter, the first of three children, and grew up in a quiet small New England town on Martha's Vineyard. A good student in school, she spent days walking the meadows and streams with her friends. She grew up in a family that knew the depression and war. She helped her aunt in the USO during World War II during the summers as she attended Northfield Seminary school for girls in the winter. She graduated from Northfield in 1944. She came back to the Vineyard to work for the electric company as a bookkeeper.

In 1951 she married Allan Keniston and had two children, Chris and Martha. Polio claimed her husband in 1955 and as a new widow she returned to her Vineyard home. She became a hard working single mom holding jobs first at the electric company and then at E.C. Cottle lumber company for many years.

She served the March of Dimes in a volunteer capacity for many years and was a life member of the Grange. She had been a girl scout leader for a few years while living in Deerfield. She became a Sunday school teacher then superintendent for a few years at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury. She retired to Florida part time in 1989 then permanently in 1994.

What do we, her kids, remember most? The fun times of course. The blueberrying, and beachplums. Blueberry popeye and chocolate gingerbread with blueberries and card games over at the Flanders cottage.

I remember jumping stonewalls with her and her mother and Dionis Riggs, who to me were all old but now I know they were my age now.

She made trips with my kids to Woods Hole, and while waiting for the boats, fed the pigeons with the boys, telling them "if you can catch one you can bring it home."

For my sister, she would go to the horseshows and be on the fence telling my serious-faced sister to smile. There were the new Easter dresses each year. They made trips to Hawaii and Bermuda together.

Martha as a kid would every now and then bring home pets, ducklings that would swim in the sink or bathtub, but mom drew the line the day Martha and Vickie showed up with four baby skunks.

She was a card shark from her childhood. She enjoyed a good game and family time. Most nights since she has been in Florida found us playing a couple hands of cribbage. She enjoyed her bridge game on the Vineyard then she found the bridge club on Anna Maria that she loved.

She had a tremendous sense of humor and could find humor in dark times. She could pull a practical joke with the best of them.

Florida lifestyle to her was her bridge group, yard sailing with Everel Black and Lois and the girls, shell collecting on the beaches.

She enjoyed Martha's place in Wellington and being able to go there on a "vacation." She got to wander Martha's new house this spring.

She made life very rich and fun at home. She enjoyed her grandkids and was very close to Mary-Beth following her open heart surgery when Mary-Beth was so helpful to her.

She had tremendous pleasure from her great grand kids.

She went with me to Arkansas the first time when I went to buy property there and returned twice more once to the old cabin and just this May saw the new cabin for the first time. She hated to leave and was looking forward to going again in September.

She was a strong woman of good New England Yankee stock but the last several weeks she became weaker as she was affected by her medical problems. She had major surgery on a Wednesday, but never really came out of it and after a valiant struggle, with her family and Pastor around her side, she left this world for Jesus and Dad. What a reunion that must have been.

Hours before she passed, she was treated to some very fine guitar music from her grandson Brad and she had struggled to acknowledge him. It was very moving and a real privilege for the rest of the family.

Survivors include son, Chris; and daughter, Martha Keniston; five grandchildren, Mary Beth Pate, Robert Keniston, Daniel Keniston, Ryan Tucker, and Brad Tucker; six great grandchildren; and her sister Marjorie Rogers.

She was a great mom, grandma, and great grandma. God tremendously blessed us. She will be missed for her warmth and humor. Thanks for being our mom and granny.

To the rest of my family and friends, she knew Jesus as her Lord and savior. I know where she is. It is my hope and prayer that each of you will follow granny's lead and ask Jesus into your hearts. Get to know the Jesus she knew. What a glorious family reunion to come.

A memorial service will take place in the fall on the Vineyard.

John W. Norton

John W. Norton of Edgartown died on July 25, at Harborside Nursing Home in Falmouth after a lengthy illness. He was 89.

John was married to Gloria M. (Authier) Norton for more than 67 years. A graveside service will be held on Friday, July 27, at 1 pm, in the New Westside Cemetery, Robinson Road, Edgartown.

Donations may be made to the Visiting Nurse Service at Martha's Vineyard Community Services, 111 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or to Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. A full obituary will appear in a future edition of The Times. Arrangements are by Chapman, Cole, and Gleason Funeral Home, Oak Bluffs. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com.

Jane S. Froelicher

Jane S. Froelicher

Jane Stuart "Stuie" Froelicher, a lifelong seasonal resident of West Chop and member of the West Chop Club, died early on the morning of July 13, exhibiting the grace, dignity and concern for family and friends that had characterized her life. She was 76.

Mrs. Froelicher, called "Stuie" by those who knew her, died after a lengthy battle with ovarian cancer in her Denver home, as her husband, Charles Froelicher, held her hand and her six children remained by her bedside.

In the days leading up to her death, Stuie, her body weakening but her mind still sharp, put the finishing details on her funeral arrangements and went to dinner with family members. Her courage and dignity in the face of death provided a source of inspiration for those invited to speak at a memorial service she designed. More than 400 friends and 51 family members attended the service, held at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral in Denver on July 17.

From her birth until this year, when her illness made a visit impossible, Stuie spent every summer of her life on West Chop. She spent many of those years surrounded by family members in the imposing house named Soundside, a classic West Chop Victorian shingle-style summer "cottage" overlooking Vineyard Sound. Stuie's maternal grandfather Cutler B. Downer first rented, and then later purchased the house. He discovered it when he found himself fog-bound in Vineyard Haven Harbor and decided to explore the Island.

Stuie's summer existence revolved around Soundside and the West Chop Club, a private club founded almost 120 years ago, that is at the epicenter of an insular community dedicated to a genteel summer existence rooted in the traditions of an earlier age, the values of which members pass along from one generation to the next.

It was on the Vineyard where her mother, Francis "Ducky" Downer, met her father, Thomas Righter. And it was on the Vineyard where she met her husband of 41 years, Charles Froelicher.

Athletic and competitive, Stuie relished everything the Chop had to offer, including the tennis games, golf, swimming, and bridge matches. But underpinning all those activities were the bonds of friendship forged over her many years spent on the Vineyard.

Close friend and club member Bob Doran of West Chop recalled that Stuie ably served as club president during a period of some change in the 1980s, preserving those things that needed to remain untouched. "Stuie led us through an awkward period with her endearing qualities of graciousness, compassion and courage," he said in remarks delivered at her Denver service. "She was the kind of person you wanted to go through tough times with."

A former schoolteacher, she took a great interest in the children of West Chop. Her lawn was always a free court for any impromptu game, from kick-the-can to capture the flag. She also organized group camp activities that later evolved into what is now formally called Group, an opportunity for children of all ages to interact and learn from one another.

Her welcoming spirit extended to local fishermen. In an area where public access was limited, she was happy to let Island fishermen use her house's path to the beach.

Lifelong friend James Norton of Vineyard Haven recalled that she always made him feel part of her West Chop group. Recalling her enthusiasm and energy he said, "She was a tremendous force in the West Chop community because she was a very dynamic and engaged person so that a lot happened because of her when we were kids going to dances and later with children's programs."

Jane Stuart Righter was born in Cambridge. She was a graduate of Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and attended Wheelock College in Boston.

In 1965, her marriage to Charles Woolley, with whom she had four children, ended. She met Charles Froelicher, who had two children by a previous marriage, on West Chop. He was then the innovative headmaster at Colorado Academy, a private preparatory school located outside Denver. They married in 1966, and Stuie took up residence in Denver, throwing herself into the role of a headmaster's wife.

The couple shared a love of the Western wilderness, hiking in the Colorado back country, and skiing. Stuie was also passionate about conserving land and preserving historic places.

She was active in the National Society of Colonial Dames of Colorado, an organization of women with roots in pre-Revolutionary America. She helped to orchestrate a partnership between the Dames and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to help operate as a museum the Hotel de Paris, a Victorian hotel the Dames bought and restored.

Her daughter Susannah Bristol of West Chop and New York said Martha's Vineyard provided a thread of continuity in her mother's busy life. "She had incredibly fond memories of the World War II years," she said. "Because she said it was the one time the Vineyard was totally unified in the war effort, whether it was rolling bandages or rationing gas coupons. It was that sense of community that she tried to carry with her wherever she lived."

She is survived by her husband; six children, including Ms. Bristol; Francis Charles Froelicher Jr., of Carbondale, Colo.; Charles H. Woolley 2nd of Denver, Colo.; Thomas R. Woolley of Ross, Calif.; Frederica A. Froelicher of Denver, Colo.; and Christopher T. Woolley of Pacific Grove, Calif.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made in her honor to any of the following: The Hotel de Paris Museum, 409 Sixth St., Georgetown, CO 80444; The Baldwin School, 701 Montgomery Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010; Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215.

N.S.