Lillian (Viera) Colligan died peacefully at home on Dec. 13, 2019. A true warrior, she fought an unwinnable battle against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with amazing strength, courage, and grace.
Lil was born on Oct. 29, 1930, in Oak Bluffs, to John Viera and Helen (Fauteux) Viera. She leaves behind a sister, Elizabeth Searle, and was predeceased by her other siblings, Shirley Zelineck, John Viera, and Arlene Viera.
She was a force to be reckoned with, and will be remembered for her countless contributions to the lives of those who knew her. She did it all, from ripping out flooring to stripping furniture and staining the decks — she believed that nothing was out of reach, and that there was nothing that couldn’t be accomplished when you put your mind to it. It was through her job as an usherette at the Oak Bluffs movie theater that she met her future husband, Ed. She loved children, and having her son was one of her greatest joys; she spread that love by surrounding herself with and caring for all the children she met. Medical issues prevented her from having more children herself, so she became an aunt, second mother, godmother, and nana to any child that she thought needed her. Stories of her impact are easy to come by, from playing Mrs. Claus at numerous events over the years, being instrumental in keeping the spirit of Christmas alive for generations of Island children through treasured letters, to the over-the-top Valentine cakes she baked and decorated for her son’s grammar school classes in the ’60s.
For over 11 years, she worked at Ben Franklin’s 5 & 10, where she was in charge of the toy section and the penny candy; seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and getting to know them was what made her happiest. She later worked at Mardell’s for 17-plus years and enjoyed dressing up as a clown at the Tisbury Street Fair. She was a lifelong member of the Portuguese-American Club, involved with American Legion Post No. 257 Women’s Auxiliary, and helped organize and support many events at her church. On most Saturday nights you could find her singing her heart out from her pew at St. Augustine’s 4 o’clock Mass. She had a legendary green thumb, and was always proud of her flowers and plants.
Her memory will live forever in the hearts of those who knew her, and with every smiley face we see.
She was predeceased by her loving husband and best friend, Edward Colligan. She will be greatly missed by her son Thomas H. Colligan and his wife Patti Young; her grandchildren Thomas E.A. Colligan and his wife Melanie, Jennifer Kuehne, Heidi Vanderhoop, Todd Vanderhoop and his love Amera; and her 10 great-grandchildren: Joseph Aguilar, Corey and Tyler Vanderhoop, Alyssa and Oliver Kuehne, Erick and Lewis Moore, and Ivan, Lyle, and Reed Ignacio-Vanderhoop; as well as by countless nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, and friends.
Please join with her family and friends celebrating her wonderful life on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in St. Augustine’s Church, 56 Franklin St., Vineyard Haven, beginning at 11 am. Burial will follow in Oak Grove Cemetery on State Road, Vineyard Haven, followed by a potluck celebration of life to share our stories and feelings, at the Agricultural Hall, 35 Panhandle Rd., West Tisbury.
In lieu of flowers, Lil requested that donations be made to American Legion Post 257: Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 257, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.