Island jeweler Cheryl Stark dies at age 70

The well-known Vineyarder recently celebrated her 50th year in business.

Partners Cheryl Stark, left, and Margery Meltzer at the 50th anniversary of CB Stark in May 2016. —Sam Moore

Jeweler and store owner Cheryl B. Stark died at the age of 70 in her West Tisbury home on Monday, Jan. 2.

Ms. Stark first came to the Vineyard in May 1966 at the age of 19. After studying jewelry making at the Museum School in Boston for a year, she came across a help-wanted ad from the Island Craft Center on Martha’s Vineyard, which needed someone to teach jewelry making.

Ms. Stark landed the position, and used her free time to make her own jewelry. Eventually, she set up a jewelry-making stall with some friends at the end of Union Street in Vineyard Haven.

“To make ends meet I scalloped, chopped wood, waitressed, and even worked on building the Black Dog,” Ms. Stark told The Times in 2011. “It was very seasonal back then.”

In 1969, she opened her own shop in a garage on Water Street, where the Black Dog Tavern would open a few years later. Ms. Stark said that the proximity of the Water Street shop to the ferry made it a first stop for returning friends. “You’d know everyone getting off the boat. It would be the first thing they’d do, stop in and say, ‘Hi! I’m here!’ and I’d call people and say ‘Guess who’s here?’”

One of those frequent drop-ins was Margery “Margie” Meltzer, who would become Cheryl’s apprentice, then partner in business and in life. Ms. Meltzer first came to the Island in 1968, via Johnstown, Pa.

With Ms. Meltzer’s help, Ms. Stark opened the CB Stark Jewelers Vineyarders know today on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. In their 50 years of business, they have created more than 500 original designs, including iconic charms of Vineyard town signs.

In May 2016, on the occasion of CB Stark’s 50th anniversary, Ms. Meltzer told The Times that she still remembers the day that Cheryl burst into the house and said, “I have it: Town signs! I’m going to make miniature town signs, you know, ‘Welcome to Edgartown,’ and make them out of gold.”

On Tuesday, The Times spoke with Islanders who knew Ms. Stark from her earliest days on Martha’s Vineyard.

“Back in ’72 I had a shop next to Cheryl’s down where the Black Dog Bakery is today,” Carol Brush of West Tisbury said. “I think it was the year she met Margie. She was quite something … very colorful … outrageous … I liked her very much. She opened my eyes up to the gay world.”

John Anderson of West Tisbury said, “I met Cheryl back in the ’80s; I’d see her hanging out at the Black Dog. She was very cool, always had a smile, the kind of person you wanted to know, so we struck up a friendship. She was a fabulous woman, and had a wonderful life on the Vineyard. She was an Island fixture.”

A celebration of Cheryl Stark’s life is being planned for the spring, with a date and time to be announced. Donations in her memory may be made to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Infusion Services, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. A complete obituary will follow in a later newspaper edition. Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Oak Bluffs.