The lives they led, part three

Islanders we lost in 2019.


We’ve decided to make “The lives they led” an annual celebration of the lives of Islanders who died during the year. We have included those who lived for at least some time on Martha’s Vineyard, or spent a significant amount of time visiting, and for whom information about their life here was available in their obituary, from which the following quotes have been taken. This week, we feature the last third of the year (September through December), along with some people who died earlier in the year, but whose obituaries came in later. 

Though we might have known a lot about those who were well-known — Ward Just was an acclaimed novelist — the obituaries of less well-known Islanders are filled with small but remarkable details you might not have known: Teresa Jaworski was 15 when the Nazis invaded Poland, and she and her friends defied them to continue their schooling, hiding out in a basement; Robert Eugene Thayer recorded textbooks for the blind and dyslexic from his home on Sengekontacket; Elizabeth Guittar would invite passersby onto her Katama porch and give them cocktails (or hydrangeas).  

The obituaries, taken together, help describe our shared history and underscore just how rich and varied a life well-lived on Martha’s Vineyard can be; they highlight what, at the end of someone’s life, they or their survivors considered the most important aspects of that life: teaching tennis to Island children, walking the Chop, toasting a 75th birthday with Scotch at Wasque, and being able to match paint colors by eye, without a computer.


Nov. 24: Rita Mae Minor, 82, Sarasota, Fla. [PIC]

[Rita’s husband] became the lighthouse keeper of West Chop Light, and it was during this time that the couple welcomed the birth of their daughter … Rita was always happy to go to Florida for the cold winter months, and happier to return to the Island in the spring. She loved sitting out on her front porch watching the birds, and listening to the Island sounds — the Steamship whistle being a favorite. 


Nov. 28: Evamae L. Magee, 93, Oak Bluffs [PIC]

In 1927, Evamae was brought to her beloved Island by her grandfather, Thomas F. Look, to live and be raised on his most beloved Island. Thomas’ Vineyard ancestry dates back to the American Revolutionary War. His great-great-grandfather, Thomas M. Look, was one of the first up-Island landowners, as well as one of the first mill owners. Some of Evamae’s fondest memories were those of summers, when the family would move from their winter home in the Highlands (East Chop) to their houseboat, the Pelican, which was moored in the O.B. Harbor.


March 28: Gary Steven Hathaway Sr., 65, Unity and Albion, Maine

Gary was born August 1, 1953, at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital to Lewis and Anna Hathaway. He was the youngest of four brothers. Growing up on Sengekontacket Pond, he quickly learned to appreciate the water, and family-run shellfish business. Chances are he was shucking scallops before he could ride a bike!


September (no date): Fran Paciello, 75, West Tisbury [PIC]

It was in 1982 that Fran had an opportunity to move to Martha’s Vineyard. With hard work and determination, he created a wonderful life for his family.


Sept. 1: Elinor A. Stewart, 93, West Tisbury [PIC]

In 1983 Bob and Elinor built a house on her beloved hill on the family property overlooking Lambert’s Cove, and they split their year between there and their residence in Arlington, Va. … She doted on three generations of children, and loved to visit the Flying Horses in Oak Bluffs to exhort them on to get the brass ring, which she often got as a young girl.


Sept. 2: Louis Finkelstein, 98, Boynton Beach, Fla.

[Lou’s] son David moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 1973 with his wife Molly and baby Ellie. Lou and Shirlee would visit at least twice a year.


Sept. 5: Aanya Adler Friess, 92, Albuquerque, N.M. [PIC]

[Anne] remained deeply connected to a home and lifelong friends on Martha’s Vineyard.


Sept. 6: Robert P. Lucas Jr., Wareham [PIC]

Bob was born on Martha’s Vineyard in 1962. He graduated from Upper Cape Vocational High School in Bourne in the class of 1981, and obtained his master electrician license at the age of 19. He was gifted in all aspects of his trade, and later branched out into large-scale generator work.


Sept. 7: John J. Lynch, 78, Edgartown [PIC]

He loved the Red Sox, and sitting on the porch at Morning Glory Farm with a cup of coffee with his best friends, [his wife] and Charlie. He adored the antique cars in the Edgartown Fourth of July Parade, and fresh corn in August.


Peggy Jean Laroche, 73, Hampton Falls, N.H.

Born in Oak Bluffs on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard, she graduated from Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School and Katharine Gibbs School of Boston.


Sept. 9: John F. Sullivan, New Bedford

[John] lived on Martha’s Vineyard for many years, where he built and repaired furniture and was a boatbuilder. Everything John did he did with exquisite craftsmanship.


Sept. 14: Eric Lee Voshell, 39, Oak Bluffs [PIC]

Eric was the owner of Reliable HVACR Co., and was also a volunteer firefighter in Oak Bluffs.


Gail A. Finan, 73, Ayer [PIC]

[Gail] resided on Martha’s Vineyard and in Leominster before moving to Ayer 30 years ago. She was a 1963 graduate of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. 


Sept. 16: Eugenia T. Whitlock, 88, West Tisbury

Born in Hollywood on Jan. 15, 1931, she spent most of her life in California, with the memorable exceptions of high school in Texas, a summer in a sheepherder’s wagon in the Wyoming backcountry, a few years in Guatemala, and then finally residing in Falmouth.


Sept. 18: Jane C. Wiley, 96, Edgartown [PIC]

[Jane] was very creative, and excelled in all of her projects, winning prizes for her original hooked rugs about Vineyard history. She was a doll artist, and for several years she exhibited her original dolls, characters of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at Toms River Historical Society and the Edgartown library.


Elizabeth Madden Guittar, 78, Katama [PIC]
Every summer [Elizabeth] looked forward to family traditions such as sunset picnics in Menemsha and drums on State Beach, and events such as the fireworks in Oak Bluffs, the Ag Fair in West Tisbury, and the Fourth of July parade in Edgartown. Two of her happiest Island memories were hearing James Taylor and Carly Simon sing together at Livestock ’95, and hosting the Vineyard Sound for a private birthday concert for her mother. She delighted in celebrity sightings with her children and grandchildren, orchestrating several “chance” encounters with the Clintons and Obamas over the years. Undoubtedly Elizabeth’s favorite pastime was sitting on her front porch on Edgartown Bay Road, greeting neighbors, friends, and passersby. She was known to offer strangers hydrangeas from her garden or invite them up to the porch for an impromptu cocktail.


Maureen Ann Strafford, 69, Cambridge [PIC]

Maureen and Alex were visitors to the Island for 40 years, and owned a seasonal home in Chilmark for 31 years. “She loved no place more,” her husband said of the Vineyard.

Sept. 20: Alexis J. Anderson, West Tisbury [PIC]

Alexis and her husband were regular visitors to the Vineyard while their two children were young, and became part-time West Tisbury residents in 2008 … She delighted in her annual Mother’s Day plunge into the chilly early spring waters of Lambert’s Cove, which originated after a challenge from her older daughter. By summer, her routines included swimming laps along the beach, trips to farmers markets, and sending progress reports on the local nesting osprey pair to her daughters.


Sept. 21: Barbara MacKay, 87, Bangor, Maine [PIC]
Barbara, Mel, and family moved to Martha’s Vineyard, an island they had fallen in love with, where Barbara designed the new house they built outside Oak Bluffs — though she later found the early 19th century house of her dreams on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. During the Vineyard years she opened a boutique in Edgartown called Marque III East, then went to work for Murray’s in Vineyard Haven.


Sept. 25: Dale Robert Morgan, 65, Edgartown [PIC]

Dale was raised and spent the majority of his life in Martha’s Vineyard as a beloved member of the community. Dale was a passionate sailor and fisherman as well as a compassionate community member, devoted to serving others.


Sept. 27: Patrick Joseph McEvoy, 89, New York, N.Y.


Sept. 30: Alexa Landi, 71, Edgartown


Michael L. Shea, 79, Houston, Texas [PIC]
Mike treasured growing up on the Vineyard, and his friends and family there. He was a great storyteller of the “good old days,” and also loved traveling in the U.S. and abroad.


Oct. 3: Alice-Josephine Taylor, 101, Oak Bluffs [PIC]

[Alice-Jo] gave much to this community: delivering Meals on Wheels, volunteering at the toddler center, being active at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center, helping establish Friends of the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging (FOBCA), and donating to countless local causes and charities.


Oct. 7: Hope E. Albertine, 91, Edgartown [PIC]


Oct. 13: James Kageleiry (“Jim”), 95, Dover, N.H. [PIC]

On Martha’s Vineyard, [Jim] loved sitting on his daughter’s porch and reading, putting jigsaw puzzles together, or taking walks around Oak Bluffs to visit friends such as Henry and Dierdre Diodati, or Sue Dawson and Alison Shaw; or having meals with friends such as Chris Brooks and Louisa Williams.


Oct. 14: Robert Cary Corr, 63, Vineyard Haven [PIC]


Harvey Arnold Everett Jr., 91, Oak Bluffs [PIC]

Everett was a member of several churches over his lifetime, most recently the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, where he served as a deacon, and before that, First Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, Pa., and the First Baptist Church of Cañon City, Colo.


Oct. 15: Robert Leo Lynch Sr., 83, Rochester [PIC]

[Bob] enjoyed summers on Martha’s Vineyard, where he met and married his wife, Brenda … He took great pleasure in gardening, fishing, camping, and spending time with his beloved family in the hot weather.


John Mortimer Coward III, 67, Lomond, Calif. 

Jay enjoyed many hobbies, including building models, collecting and rebuilding antique radios, working on his classic Volkswagens, and spending time with his family on Pohogonot Farm on the Vineyard.


Oct. 16: Davin Aisulu Tackabury, 17, West Tisbury [PIC]

Most particularly, Davin left a rich legacy in his photographic art, renowned nationally. In the National Scholastic Awards for 2018, Davin was awarded two gold and multiple silver awards, earning him an invitation to a recognition ceremony at the Scholastic Awards at Carnegie Hall in New York City. His work before and since then has been seen in showings on-Island, and in the pages of the Martha’s Vineyard Times and Martha’s Vineyard Gazette.


Oct. 17: Robert Pieringer, 92, Oak Bluffs [PIC]

In 2002, after spending many summers on the Island, Bob and Bertha retired to a post-and-beam house that Bob built in Waterview Farm. They were members of Farm Neck Golf Club, and Vineyard Haven and Edgartown Yacht Clubs. Other Martha’s Vineyard organizations Bob belonged to include the First and Third Men’s Club, and First Congregational Church of West Tisbury.


Oct. 18: Anna J. Constantine, 92, Oak Bluffs [PIC]

[Anna] recently returned to her Island home, after a series of medical issues, to be near her sisters. 


Oct. 19: David A. Abrahams, 92, New York, N.Y. [PIC?]

An avid athlete, his summer highlights were running the Chilmark Road Race with his family, “walking the Chop,” sunset views at the flagpole, and lobster rolls at Grace Church. He was a lifelong learner, after retirement as a member of the peer-learning group Quest, and a frequenter of the Island’s many summer concerts, lectures, and films, especially at the Hebrew Center. 


Jane E. Carvalho, 72, Mattapoisett

Jane enjoyed hiking, biking, camping, being at the ocean, and the outdoors in general.


Oct. 20: Ian A. Aitchison, 84, Vineyard Haven [PIC]

In 2007 Ian moved to Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard, where he continued work on a number of community committees, and lived there with Dorothy Sayre Drozdyk until his death.


Oct. 23: Barbara J. Ward, 92, Vineyard Haven [PIC]

Barbara loved music of all kinds, and sang in the choir of several Island churches, including the Methodist church in Vineyard Haven. She and her friends were regulars at the Tabernacle sing-alongs in Oak Bluffs. She loved the sea more than anything else, and felt she was fortunate to have spent so much of her life in a place where the sea was within a short drive of her apartment at Woodside Village.


Ethel Virginia Bannister, 99, Vineyard Haven [PIC]

[Ethel] also enjoyed hosting parties for her family and friends when she lived on Myrtle Avenue. Ethel loved to travel, and she did so frequently with her husband.


Oct. 24: Heinz-Helmer Puetthoff, 74, Vineyard Haven [PIC]

In the year 2000 [Helmer] retired to the Island. He was always proud to be a “wash-ashore,” loving the Vineyard intensely. The family owned three sailboats along the way, the most recent a lovely cruising boat named Frisia, in honor of his maternal East Frisian heritage, of which he was especially proud. He was an active member of the sailing group CANE, where he had many friends.


Bruce A. Farland, 62, Edgartown [PIC]

Bruce lived in and maintained the house of his grandparents, Frank and Charlotte Duarte. Frank was a member of the Edgartown Fire Department as well as a local house painter, owning a paint shop on Green Street. Bruce’s paternal grandfather, Joseph A. Farland Sr., also known as “Spike” Farland, served for many years as the Oak Bluffs fire chief; Joseph A. Farland Square, at the foot of Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, is dedicated to his memory. Both of Bruce’s parents were born in Oak Bluffs.


Oct. 25: David Blake Meek, 63, Durham, N.C. [pic]

[David] spent several years in the early part of this century living and working on the Vineyard. He was a warm, loving, caring friend, and his kindness touched the lives of those he met here. He holds a place in their hearts; the memory of his smile, his humor, and the twinkle in his eye will be held close by those fortunate enough to have known him. 


Oct. 26: Karen A. Kukolich, 75, Edgartown

She was an active participant and member of many Island organizations over the years, such as the M.V. Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and the Surfcasters Association, which recently celebrated her 75th birthday on Oct. 6 at Wasque, where she was toasted with her favorite Scotch. Most notably, she served as director of the board of the M.V. Land Bank, the Rod & Gun Club, and Island Health Care of M.V. Karen’s love for fishing and boating is well known and documented, on and off the Island. She liked nothing better than to captain her boat, the Tippet, through Vineyard waters.


Emily R. Scott, 89, Oak Bluffs [PIC]

A lifelong Islander, Emily worked as a telephone operator and went on to work at Compass Bank (now Martha’s Vineyard Bank). Known for her electric humor and vibrant, upbeat personality, she enjoyed interacting with patrons and the Island community. 


Nov. 1: Thomas J. Rabbitt Jr., 84, Vineyard Haven [PIC]

For over 30 summers, Tom organized the Friends and Family of Mary Tucker Tennis Invitational in Oak Bluffs. Many Island youth and children of friends and family were taken under Tom’s wing to learn tennis. As well, he provided many youth with summer jobs at the Island Inn Country Club tennis courts … His favorite sayings, “Just you and me,” and “It never rains on my courts!” will linger in the ears of many.


Nov. 3: Joyce Gibson, 86, Vineyard Haven


Nov. 6: George Rogers Sr., 97, Vineyard Haven [PIC]

Upon his retirement from the Steamship Authority in the late 1970s, [George] was anxious to start his own business, and ultimately purchased an old Hood milk truck, and with town permits in hand, sold ice cream at Katama Beach and along State Beach for nearly 20 years. During that time, he took great pleasure in meeting people from around the world, but his greatest joy was bringing a smile to the faces of the endless lines of children who purchased ice cream from his truck stand on State Beach. George was an avid fisherman, who participated in the original M.V. Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby that started in 1946, and continued to fish the shoreline and waterways of Martha’s Vineyard right up to the age of 90.


Nov. 7: Victoria Mae Campos, 90, Vineyard Haven [PIC]


Nov. 8: Michael Adell, 82, West Tisbury [PIC]

Once he became a year-round resident, Mike immersed himself in life on the Vineyard, particularly in such volunteer activities as Vineyard Village at Home, Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, the Food Pantry, and leading “spin” classes at the YMCA.


Nov. 13: Evelyn F. DeBettencourt, 99, Oak Bluffs [PIC]


Nov. 16: Robert G. Parkhurst, 67, Edgartown [PIC]

In the early 1980s [Bob] moved to the Vineyard, where he made his home. He enjoyed his family, friends, gardening with his wife, and being close to the water. Bob will be remembered for his complete love and devotion to his wife and family. 


Nov. 22: William A. Ingraham Jr., 71, Vineyard Haven [pic]

Bill is the fifth generation of the Ingraham family to have ties to Martha’s Vineyard, and is a direct descendant of Elias Ingraham (E. Ingraham Clock Co., Bristol, Conn., 1880).

Bill spent all of his summers at the East Chop Beach Club, and moved to the Island year-round with his family in 1959. He married Carol in 1973, and they spent every day together for 46 years, and had two children, Jennifer and Elias.

Bill and Carol owned Island Color Center. He was well-known for his ability to match paint colors by eye, without a computer.


Nov. 23: Teresa M. Jaworski, 95, Vineyard Haven [PIC]

Her last 22 idyllic years on Martha’s Vineyard were in stark contrast to the nightmarish landscape of her youth. Poland had been invaded by both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia in 1939, when Teresa was 15. With all civil rights stripped away under occupation, daily life was perilous. Teresa and her friends defied strict Nazi laws and organized underground classes to continue their schooling.


Richard Olejarz, 72, Vineyard Haven


Nov. 25: Elaine T. Teixeira, Falmouth


Keith Elliott Gear, 60, Ventura, Calif.

He was an avid fisherman, and loved camping with his friends. He was an exceptional cook. He enjoyed traveling the world, and was brilliant at fixing just about anything his kids happened to break. 


Nov. 27: Harold Wolozin, 99, Oak Bluffs 


Nov. 29: Shirley J. Robinson, 83, Oak Bluffs [PIC]

Shirley invented herself again when she began work at the Tisbury Elementary School as assistant cook with Sheila Decosta. She eventually replaced Sheila as head cook, and put her unique culinary talents to work. She quickly earned the coveted and beloved title of “Lunch Lady.” Fortunate are they who have tasted her cooking, especially her famous mac and cheese. After 15 years of dedicated service to the children and staff at the Tisbury School, she retired her “Lunch Lady” crown in 2001. She continued feeding the community during the Tisbury Street Fair for 15 years, working alongside her mom and sisters, who supplied the Vineyard’s Best Fried Chicken every year to sellout crowds.


Dec. 1: Allan Gerson, Washington, D.C.


John R. Campos Jr., 85, Bedford [PIC]

John was born in Oak Bluffs, and was the son of John R. and Alice B. (Hackett) Campos. He grew up in the family home on Tuckernuck Avenue, played at nearby Waban Park, and swam in the ocean at the foot of his street. He fondly remembered working his teen summers at Darlings Popcorn Store, tending the saltwater taffy machine, and then driving the “up-Island” back roads delivering for Whiting’s Milk.


Dec. 12: Roger Eugene Thayer, 93, Sengekonatcket [PIC]

Since 1989, Roger volunteered for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, whose National Headquarters and Library is in Princeton, N.J. At the time, he recorded portions of mainly electronics and other technical textbooks in the Washington, D.C., studio. After moving to Martha’s Vineyard in 1995, he was loaned recording equipment to continue work from his home in Sengekontacket. He amassed a record of over 6,100 hours of volunteer recording, more than anyone to date for the Washington studio, completing over 48 books in their entirety.


Dec. 13: Lillian G. Colligan, 89, Vineyard Haven [PIC]

For over 11 years, [Lillian] 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. 


Dec. 16: Agatha M. Breidenbach, 83, Iliff, Colo. [PIC]

[Agatha] enjoyed spending time with family and friends, and taking adventures to Martha’s Vineyard, Vermont, and other locations with her longtime companion in his single-engine plane. 


Dec. 17: Florence A. Morgan, 95, Edgartown [PIC]


Dec. 18: William Langdon Skinner, West Tisbury [PIC]

After retiring to West Tisbury, Bill continued to give back: He served as board member and chairman during the years-long effort to build the Martha’s Vineyard YMCA; he brought his skills to various small business owners as a SCORE mentor; and he served on the Housing Authority Board, established to steward affordable housing on the Island.

Bill also had fun — playing golf and tennis, immersing himself in photography, and along with [his wife] Julie, hosting myriad gatherings and outings for friends and family.


Dec. 19: Ward Swift Just, 84, Vineyard Haven

Ward loved the Vineyard, loved Lambert’s Cove Beach, particularly at sundown when he could throw a plug in the water from shore, casting about for the elusive bluefish, over and over and over, the pleasure and the beauty of the act more important than landing a fish. He loved chewing over meaty ideas around a dinner table, as curious about tugboating as he was about American politics or the current take on the latest Philip Roth novel.


Dec. 21: Doris Isabel Williams, 99, Leesburg, Va. [pic]

Doris and Fred moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 1972, and enjoyed many years together at their beloved Island home. Doris enjoyed an active lifestyle, which included golf, travel, and of course, endless wonderful hours at the bridge table. She volunteered her time and energies to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, Meals on Wheels, and many other community-service organizations.


Dec. 26: Thomas W. Pachico, 67, Vineyard Haven [PIC]


Dec. 28: William Anthony Webber (“Billy”), 50, New Britain, Conn. [PIC]

[Billy’s] life was blessed with many offshore trips and bigeye fishing adventures shared with all who loved him. They included local fishing tournaments, the Monster Shark Tournament, and the Oak Bluffs Bluewater Classic with Captain Al Gagnon of the Brennans Grin and Big Eye Charters over the past 20 years. His love for fishing the Atlantic began as a young boy on Long Island Sound, Conn., with his family, and progressed to Martha’s Vineyard with his lifelong friends.