Hope Graff Waingrow, a longtime resident of Edgartown, died Sunday, June 13, in Concord. She was 84.
Hope was born in Pittsburgh, Penn., on February 17, 1926 to Laura Elisabeth Ellis Graff and Judge J. Frank Graff of Kittanning, Penn. She spent her childhood in Kittanning and New York City. Hope was a graduate of Cornell University where she majored in English literature. She went on to get a master’s degree in English from Pennsylvania State University. She worked first as a legal secretary and then for a professor at Yale University, writing and editing an index for his research. She went on to teach English and reading at the junior high, high school, and college levels, both in New Haven, Conn., and Claremont, Calif.
In 1961, she was hired as a reporter for the Claremont Courier, a job that she loved and worked at for 20 years. She especially loved covering politics, both local and national, and one of her memorable moments was meeting Robert Kennedy when he was campaigning in California. Raised as a Republican, she switched to being a Democrat after the Eisenhower election. Despite a passion for the causes that were embraced by liberal Democrats, Hope was particularly known for fair and accurate reporting without bias. When she was not writing for the newspaper, she was writing short stories, family histories, and the letters that made her so famous among friends and family.
In 1982, Hope moved to Martha’s Vineyard to be closer to her children who were living on the east coast at the time. She was drawn to the small town culture and the beauty of the Island. She wrote an essay about the colors and light in Martha’s Vineyard and it was published in the local newspaper.
Because she loved small town politics, Hope pursued work for the town of Edgartown, as secretary to the town clerk, assistant to the Zoning Board of Appeals, and secretary for the selectmen. She was dedicated to her work at town hall and delighted in keeping up with the political and social affairs of the town. She continued to work until she turned 84, when a number of medical problems interfered. In honor of her contribution as a devoted employee, the Town of Edgartown flew its American flag at half-mast for three days following her death.
Hope loved good food and was known as a great cook whose home was always open to friends who would drop by frequently, both for a delicious meal but also for her humorous and witty storytelling. Her cooking skills were passed down to all of her children and many of their friends, one of whom said, “Your mother never minded when we blew up the kitchen. She taught me what great food was.” Her home was a “home away from home” for many friends who needed a good ear, a place to sleep, and a great meal.
She was a voracious reader whose passion for reading fiction and nonfiction, and for learning about politics, and the social issues of the times, educated and entertained friends and family alike. She also loved animals and always had at least one pet, cat, or dog, or both, to dote on. They were like children to her and she was known to nurse a couple of kittens back to health with Martha’s Vineyard bay scallops and cream. She also loved to garden and was particularly fond of her roses in Claremont and, on Martha’s Vineyard, her herb garden and the meadow that she cultivated behind her house. Her children continue her legacy with a love of cooking and good food, gardening, pets, and reading.
Frustrated by the narrow roles for women in the 1950s, Hope always worked outside of the home. She was also exceptionally encouraging of her children finding work that they would love passionately. She was a single, divorced parent but went to great effort to support her children’s interests in art, flying, music, community service, or whatever each of them felt passionate about.
She leaves three children, (Elisabeth) Ellis Waingrow of Newton; Emily Hope Waingrow Falke of Santa Barbara, Calif; and Daniel Graff Waingrow and his wife, Debora, of Seattle, Wash.; and seven grandchildren. She also leaves her brother, Peter Graff IV and his wife, Nancy, of Kittanning, Penn.; and several cousins, three nieces and a nephew. Her sister, Laura Graff McIlwain, died in 1979 and her former husband, Marshall Waingrow, died in 2006.
A private service and burial will take place in Worthington, Penn., on July 17. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Edgartown Free Public Library, 58 North Water St., Edgartown, MA. 02539; the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, ccfa.org; or an animal rescue or shelter of your choice. A memorial gathering will be held at the town hall in Edgartown sometime in August.