Chilmark: Remembering William Waterway


Sunday morning I received a call from Brooks Robards with the shocking news that beloved Island poet, founder of the Martha’s Vineyard Poetry Society, Native American flute player, world water advocate, MVTV supporter, nature photographer, and so much more William Waterway passed away Saturday night. William was one of the first people I met after moving to the Island and joining the Cleaveland House Poets. We both lived in Edgartown. For one of my community art exhibits at Featherstone Center for the Arts he brought the large painting he had done of himself on horseback near a stream on the ride he did after college, bringing attention to water sources in this country, and that was 1978! William had a big heart and gave so much time and energy to Island projects, from saving lighthouse, creating the first water testing facility, starting MV Magazine, to setting up a day of poetry readings and music live at MVTV each year for the past few years! It is difficult to imagine Pathways Projects without his presence, playing flute to kick off an evening of writers reading. William’s efforts aided many local causes; his energy at organizing and supporting poetry on this Island were unmatched. When I told him about Poem in Your Pocket Day a few years back, he participated on his own, stopping in a Stop and Shop aisle to read to passers-by and then pulling his poem out wherever he made his way the rest of the day to read to strangers. Next year he organized readings at MVTV. He touched so many people on this Island, and we hope his spirit has made a safe journey. Sending love to his family and friends as we cope with his loss.

Rain, sun, and cooler weather this week were a blessing. Chilmark Chocolates seems to have a line daily at all hours since reopening their doors. I ran into Audrey Phillips stocking up at Chilmark Chocolates before she drives her mother, Jean Granum, of Chilmark home to Maryland for the winter. Jean first arrived in 1957, the year I was born, renting in East Chop before moving up to Chilmark, where they built a home. Audrey has visited the Island all her life, and still gets to enjoy nearly a month in the summer with family and Island friends. Safe travels, and see you next summer!

Last week when I mentioned restaurants, I glaringly left off the Beach Plum Inn (508-645-9454), which is hosting a weekly “bourbon and BBQ” night on Tuesdays, while the Home Port (508-645-2679) will offer a family-style informal lobster boil on the patio on Wednesday nights, both happenings through Columbus Day. No reservations needed, but call for details.

If you have not already checked out the wonderful offerings this fall available through ACE MV, you can do so at or see the catalog at a local library. I will be offering Hand & Foot Fitness for a third year.

The Yard has an exciting weekend of activities showcasing all local folk, so head out to see and hear some of the amazing talent. Check or call 508-645-9662.

Pizza nights start Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 6 pm at the Chilmark Community Church. All are welcome to come and enjoy some company.

Local author Paul Magid will speak about his second book, “The Gray Fox: George Crook and the Indian Wars,” at the Chilmark library on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 5 pm. Paul Magid is a retired attorney who worked in U.S. overseas grassroots development programs, first with the Peace Corps and then as general counsel to the African Development Foundation. Upon retiring in 1999, he received a master’s degree in nonfiction writing from Johns Hopkins. Crook attracted the author’s attention after he learned that not only was the general regarded as the most skillful and knowledgeable military leader in the wars waged against the Indians on the Western frontier, but spent the latter years of his career advocating for and defending the rights of his former foes.

Join Women Empowered Martha’s Vineyard in honoring Island women: Jo Ann Murphy, director of veterans services; Betty Burton, founder of “Serving Hands”; and Chilmark Chocolates co-owners Mary Beth Grady and Allison Burger at a champagne brunch, with keynote speaker Jessica Kensky, Boston Marathon survivor and double amputee, speaking about “The Resilience of the Human Spirit,” at the Harbor View Hotel on Sunday, Sept. 27, from 11 am to 1 pm. Limited seating, so order your ticket by calling 508-696-8880.