Elke Sunshine (Tuck) Klein, 24, who shared the same breath and heartbeats with her mother, Robin Tuck, for 24 years, died on July 19. She was truly a magical child. Elke drowned this summer due to a seizure while swimming at Lagoon Pond, her favorite place.
Elke came to the Island at 3 months old, and lived in a safe and wonderful Vineyard bubble where she was nurtured by her single mother, where they both learned to cope with her challenges of epilepsy and vision impairment. She her mother concentrated on the things she knew — physical anthropology, competitive swimming, and folklore. Schools were at a loss how to teach Elke, so she was homeschooled until she was 13. She was smart, playing “hominids,” making tipis and campfires, kayaking, fishing, swimming every day either at the Lagoon or the Mansion House. Elke hung out with her Newfoundland dog Sherwood, told endless stories, watched “Scooby-Doo” and “Tom and Jerry,” and enjoyed being always together with her mother. She spoke French. She loved picking up garbage on the beaches and keeping the Earth clean. She loved the gang at Leslie’s Pharmacy, Sundog, and Nat’s Nook. She loved coffee. She loved her high school years and her teachers. Special Olympics with Lisa Knight was a highlight. Special days with Annette Anthony, Alicia Lesnikowsk,i and Deborah Johnson were magical.
She grew up at the Island’s libraries. She could be quite clever; she discovered she could render her favorite books discards by ripping off the labels. Oops! She spent most summers from age 10 attending Camp Jabberwocky, and made amazing friendships. Indeed, the camp was instrumental in helping family and friends pull together a service for her on State Beach in July that was dubbed “Elke’s Volcanic Sunset,” attended by all her friends across the Island, wearing fairy wings.
She loved Rikki Tiki Tavi and Nagina, her dolls, Brat dolls (they looked like ancient Egyptians to her), Anubis, Sue the T. Rex, Emily Dickenson, Edgar Allen Poe, Omnia, the Grateful Dead, Britney Spears, and “Fiddler on the Roof.” She was sweet and kind and assumed everybody was a friend; it scared her when people cried, and she wanted everybody to be happy. One Christmas all she wanted was a UNICEF box so she could help poor children.
Elke is survived by her mother, Robin Tuck, and her grandmother, Lynn C. Tuck.
Donations can be made in her memory to Camp Jabberwocky.