Paula Black


A bright light in the Vineyard landscape stopped glowing when Paula Black died at home in the early morning of October 12, 2009. Her 11-year fight with breast cancer, in which she won many battles, finally eclipsed her brilliance.

Born in Elsmere, Delaware, June 26, 1953, she was one of eight children — six boys and two girls — of Helen and Paul Martin. Paula attended and graduated from Corpus Christi High School in 1971.

Paula came to the Vineyard in 1979 to work for just the summer, but she was seduced by the Vineyard’s alluring powers, and she never left. Like many other Vineyarders, she worked a range of jobs, from being a milkmaid at Nip ‘n Tuck Farm, to working at Gannon and Benjamin, to cleaning houses. She shone the brightest at the West Tisbury Public Library, where she radiated to the fullest like a full-plumed peahen.

Paula loved the people she worked with and the people she served. She had eclectic interests, including raising canaries, growing orchids, and beekeeping. She loved reading books and running. She ran in many road races on the Vineyard and in Falmouth and Delaware. Paula loved biking and walking. She knitted, sewed, and made braided rugs. A vegetarian throughout her adult life, she chose to love animals and not to eat them. Though Paula had many interests, she devoted most of her time to her marriage of almost 38 years to her husband, Michael Black, who cherished her immensely.

Paula, with her beaming smile and infectious attitude, will continue to glow and radiate in the hearts and memories of the people she touched, like the warmth and glow of a hearth long after its fire has been extinguished.

Everyone is invited to a tree dedication to celebrate Paula’s birthday, Saturday, June 26, at 5 pm at the West Tisbury library. Please bring a favorite finger-food if you would like. In lieu of flowers, Michael suggests that donations be made to the West Tisbury Public Library Gift fund.