Emma MacKay Hall


Emma MacKay Hall died tragically on the evening of December 19, 2020, at the young age of 22.

Emma was the very definition of an Island girl. She loved her parents, sisters, dogs, close circle of friends, and the place they all called home. She was kind, loving, generous to a fault, and the life of the party; her smile and laugh lit up every room she entered. She was hardworking, passionate, sensitive, and strong, but most of all a devoted, loyal friend taken far too soon. All those that were fortunate enough to be touched by Emma’s larger than life presence will miss her dearly, every day.

Emma was born in Oak Bluffs at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital on November 25, 1998, and attended the MVH preschool, Garden Gate, Oak Bluffs School, and MVRHS, graduating in June of 2017 with honors. The highlight of her high school career was her junior trip abroad with her beloved Ms. Weintraub to Ireland; Emma always joked that she was returning to “her motherland.”

Emma’s college plans took a non-traditional route, but through her journey, she discovered her true passion and was working on her Early Education/Special Education degree at Lesley University and hoped to incorporate her love of dogs and art as therapeutic tools in her classroom. Emma discovered her love of early education during a gap year while working at Project Headway and formed ties with women she worked alongside, whom she considered her mentors: Emily Walker, Becki Fontaine, and Grace Robinson.

Emma was a beloved nanny to many families, often preferring to work with babies and infants but had one exception, caring for her godmother, Dawn Warner’s son, Augie, whom she loved enormously and cherished every moment of their silliness together.

In her downtime, Emma loved to be at the beach with her mom and sisters. She was a fish out of water and lovingly referred to as “seal pup” by her family, often staying in the water hours on end, egging folks on to swim out to the sand bar with her. Wherever Emma went, music was blaring. She had a passion for attending concerts with her sisters and friends and sharing her favorite artists with anyone who would listen.

Emma had many gifts that she was quick to share with others. She was a skilled baker, often out and about dropping off treats for friends to enjoy. Her love of crafting and making meant her family and friends were showered with homemade gifts, whether there was something to celebrate or not.

While in elementary school, Emma began volunteering at the annual Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society’s Livestock Show and Fair with her sister Charlotte and her mother, a tradition that carried on for 10 years until her high school graduation. Giving thousands of hours of her time, Emma spent most of her summer months behind the scenes doing whatever was asked of her, forming strong bonds with another group of women she considered mentors and referred to them as “The Fair Ladies.” Her favorite part of those summers was working with Charlotte in livestock judging, where she would gleefully follow Steve, the state judge, with her basket of ribbons.

Our world will never quite be the same, but to keep her spirit alive, hold your friends and family a little tighter, do something special for someone, and donate to your favorite local organization, just because that is what our Emma would do.

Emma is survived by her parents, Peter and Helen Hall, sisters Sarah Hall Mercaldo (and her husband Kyle) and Charlotte L. Hall, her beloved dogs, Winnie, Chester and Daisy, many uncles, aunts, and cousins, her grandmother Patricia L. Holland, and a close circle of friends that she considered family. Emma’s much-beloved grandmother for whom she was named, Shirley MacKay Hall, predeceased her on July 19, 2020.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a celebration of Emma’s life will take place at a later date. Our family has established a scholarship through the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation in Emma’s honor and plan to establish a baking award at the Ag Fair along with scholarship funds for children’s art at Featherstone. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to one of the three referenced in Emma’s name.

The family wants to thank the members of our remarkable community. These random acts of kindness that we find ourselves on the receiving end of are a wonderful reminder of how our Emma lived her life. To us, her family, COVID was a gift of time spent together, laughing, baking, reminiscing, building Legos, and binge-watching series and movies. It is this gift of time together that we will forever cherish.


  1. Such a beautiful life well lived. May her memories fill you with a sense of love as they pass through your mind in the days ahead.

  2. My heart is broken dear Emma. Ar dheis De go raibh a anum from the “Motherland” (May her soul sit at the right hand of God.

  3. Emma filled the world around her with so much love. May her memories wrap around you like her hugs!
    Love to all,
    Mary Beth

    • The young man’s life will never be the same either. I am sure he wishes he had just stayed home that night. We have to pray for all the families and even through difficult times try our hardest to find the love in our hearts. We are a bigger community than that. I think Emma’s family would want us to live in her beautiful light.

  4. I was lucky and privileged to meet beautiful Emma at Sarah’s bridal shower and wedding. No words can describe the anguish we feel over this devastating loss. Sending our love and deepest condolences to Sarah and all her family, and all who knew and loved Emma. May your memories of her soothe you at this difficult time.

  5. I knew Emma as her school principal at Oak Bluffs, and among her many personal characteristics was her habitual smile that she displayed daily and consistently to most everyone. Because her mom Helen worked in the office with me, I would get to see and chat with her and her sister frequently, and her attentive and friendly demeanor would always lighten my spirit. She had that special quality of brightening the moment. Though it might sound like a cliche’, she was truly beautiful, inside and out.

    My heart goes out to her parents Peter & Helen, and sisters Sarah & Charlotte for their loss. As Vineyarders, we understand that their pain is also our pain, and that our support in this time of sadness is beyond question.

    Laury Binney

  6. I am so sorry to hear of your loss of Emma. She will be an angel. I never knew Emma but I can see she is cherished. I visit the Island every year in the summer. Please know that my prayers are with you.

  7. Reading about this tragic accident and seeing her angelic smiling face
    brings tears and compassion for her family. I can’t even imagine the searing pain they must feel losing their beautiful, generous, talented
    daughter and sister. My heart is with you.

  8. I am so saddened to hear of your loss.
    My heart goes out to your family. Hope for support and strength to get you through this difficult time.

  9. I am so sorry for your immense loss. May your know that your grief is shared by many. I hope your memories are bringing in lightness during this darkness. We are all simply walking each other home…I am so sorry your journey with Emma was not longer. With love and sympathy.

  10. My heart is so heavy for you and your family, Sarah. Reading this lovely tribute was such an honor. Our family sends you & yours our deepest condolences & know that you all will be in our thoughts & prayers. Alison, Tom & Family. xo

  11. I did not know Emma Hall but like many in our Island community my tears fell and my heart broke when I heard about this accident. I thank the writer for this beautiful homage to her too short life so that her nephews and nieces may learn of their wonderful aunt for all time to come. It is obvious she gave much joy to many people –may that legacy live on.

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