Eileen Sullivan Mayhew


Eileen Sullivan Mayhew died on May 21, 2016, after celebrating her 101st birthday with her family and friends at Long Hill in Edgartown.

Born in Melrose on May 11, 1915, Eileen was the seventh of the 10 children of Margaret (Sidley) and John Sullivan of County Cork, Ireland. She attended St. Mary’s Parochial School in Melrose and then Cheverus High School in Malden. She graduated from Emmanuel College in Boston with the class of 1937, having majored in biology and chemistry. After graduating, she studied at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital to become an X-ray technician.

Eileen came to Martha’s Vineyard in 1938 to work as the first X-ray and laboratory technician at the Vineyard hospital. She married Benjamin C. Mayhew Jr. on Jan. 18, 1941. A fisherman’s wife, Eileen was instrumental in getting the town of Chilmark to approve women scalloping in Menemsha and Quitsa Ponds. She served briefly as the Chilmark Postmistress, and was involved with the Chilmark Community Center and the Town Affairs Council. Eileen was a strong supporter of her husband’s political involvement in the community as selectman of Chilmark and as the representative of Dukes County in the Massachusetts State House. She was a loving, dedicated mother to their five children.

Eileen was predeceased by her husband in September 1969 and her daughter Eileen Mayhew May in January 1999. She is survived by her three sons, Benjamin Mayhew III (known as “Skip”) of Edgartown and his wife Cristina; Gregory Mayhew of West Tisbury and his wife Lois; Jonathan Mayhew of Chilmark and his wife Anne; and one daughter, Margaret Pénicaud of Chilmark and her husband Dominique. She had 27 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 am, Saturday, Sept. 10, at St. Augustine Church in Vineyard Haven, followed by a celebration of her life at the Chilmark Community Center (about 11:30). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to Good Shepherd Parish, P.O. Box 1058, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, or to the Supportive Day Care Program of the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living, P.O. Box 1729, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.