Heidi Clarke Schultz


Our musical, funny, and complex mother died on May 21, 2021. She first made sure that her two daughters supported her decision and then, relieved from her pain, she left us to join the rest of her family, who had predeceased her.

Heidi was born to Hans T. Clarke and Frieda Planck January 14, 1927. She was the youngest of four children, and grew up in a household of music and science. She spent her early years in Riverdale, N.Y., and attended the Riverdale Country Day School. Living in the family’s summer home in Scotland, Conn., she developed a lifelong love of animals. She attended Mount Holyoke College, graduating in 1948. She then married Frederic M. Richards in 1948, after they had courted while working at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. They had two children, Sarah and Ruth. During the next few years, the family lived in Denmark and England while Fred did research in his postdoctoral assignments. After moving to New Haven, Conn., the couple divorced in 1956. Heidi moved to West Tisbury, where she spent most of the rest of her life.

Heidi raised her two daughters on her own. She worked part-time at the Up-Island Garage in the early days. Later she worked for Louise Tate King at her restaurant in North Tisbury, where she met Tiger Haynes. He, Betty Guillard, Emily Rose, and Heidi sang in an informal singing group that gave them all great joy. In 1974 she was elected to the position of West Tisbury town clerk. She held that office for 21 years, retiring in 1995.

Through it all, her love of all things musical continued. Her heart was with the Vineyard Sinfonietta, which she joined as a cellist under the direction of Hamilton Benz. No matter what stage the Sinfonietta was in, she remained devoted to its mission, playing for groups small and large, organizing sheet music, and administering the rehearsal and

performance schedule. She arranged and composed several pieces over the years, including one based on the Brothers Grimm story “Town Musicians of Bremen.”

In the 1960s she hosted numerous musicales in her home with West Tisbury luminaries including Jack and Barbara Scannell, Gale Huntington, Ernie Corellus, and Mike Athearn.

She moved the family to Falmouth for the winters during her daughters’ high school years. In addition to working at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and singing in a madrigal group, she became involved with the Highfield Theater Company. It was in this group that she met Ronnee Lyle Schultz, whom she married in 1971. The two of them had many happy times camping in Maine and sailing their catboat in Vineyard Sound.

Heidi was politically active. She held a public office, worked on Eugene McCarthy’s campaign, and was active with antiwar efforts during the Vietnam era. She was well-known to the Vineyard Gazette as a letter writer.

In addition to all the above, Heidi was an artist and craftsperson, devoting herself to making various kinds of wall art, knitted blankets, and needlepoint pillows.

The family has created a website in her memory. Stories about her life are most welcome; submit them at heidiclarkeschultz.wordpress.com.

Contributions in Heidi’s memory may be made to Earth Justice, 50 California St., Ste. 500, San Francisco CA 94111, or at earthjustice.org.


  1. I knew Heidi because I commuted to Woods Hole Oceanographic when her husband Ronnee commuted to the National Marine Fisheries in Woods Hole. They were such happy and close soul mates and now they will be together again. Will never forget Ronnee playing cards during the commute, nor Heidi playing music on the Island. Rest happily together, Heidi and Ronnee.
    Patty Kendall

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