The Lives They Led: Jan. – Mar. 2021


Nov. 25, 2020: Roy Gundersen, 89, Edgartown
Roy embraced the Vineyard community. The Vineyard was his paradise. He joined the Edgartown Fire Department, was the head of Civil Defense, coached baseball, served on the board of the Council of Aging, and volunteered at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

Nov. 28, 2020: Rosie Marie Davis, 93, Oak Bluffs and Elmsford, N.Y.
Rose Marie was an active member of the Cottagers Organization and Union Chapel. She will be remembered for her beautiful smile, love for flowers, and a generous spirit.

Dec. 17, 2020: Judith A. Ford, 87, Oak Bluffs
[Judy and her husband Robert] retired to their favorite place, Martha’s Vineyard, where they spent many happy years tromping through tidal pools and marshes. They spent a lot of time at Felix Neck, and exploring the Island habitats. Judy loved so much about the Island, including living in Oak Bluffs. She loved the carousel, and roaming the gift shops on Circuit Ave. for special treasures and beach bags to share with summer visitors. She also spent a great deal of time at the Oak Bluffs library, and when she could no longer get there, they brought the books to her.

Dec. 19, 2020: Bruce Gade, 67
In Bruce’s last few years he gravitated to Martha’s Vineyard, and worked his fiberglass magic on boats for Edgartown Marina and Prime Marina.

Dec. 24, 2020: Susan Elizabeth May, 68, Chatham, N.J., and Chilmark
[Susan] was a summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard all her life, beginning at the age of 6 weeks. As a teenager, she worked at Humphrey’s Bakery in West Tisbury. Later in life, she captured the unique beauty of the Island in hundreds of watercolor paintings.

Dec. 29, 2020: Helen Joan Levy, 85, Chilmark

Dec. 31, 2020: Thomas Darragh Mullins II, 85, West Tisbury
Tom loved to sail Vineyard Sound and nearby waters on his Vineyard Vixen 34, Nakhoda (Persian for “master,” as in captain of a ship), or zip over to Tarpaulin Cove in his Boston Whaler.

Jan. 2: Mikolaj G. Wojnowski, 76, Vineyard Haven
Mikolaj liked to relax at the beach, and would spend the whole day in the water.

Jan. 3: Osmana Bianchi, 86, Vineyard Haven
A frequent visitor to the Vineyard since the 1960s, Osmana moved full-time to Vineyard Haven with her husband in 1989. Osmana could always be seen happily working in her beautiful garden, or at the Senior Center, where she loved spending time with her friends.

Jan. 4: Marcia B. Merrill, 85, Vineyard Haven
Marcia was an avid crocheter, a true passion in her life. If you were family, a friend or neighbor, or even an acquaintance, you’re likely enjoying a pair of her slippers, mittens, a hat, or a potholder in your kitchen. Maybe you’re fortunate enough to be wrapped with the love of one of her beautiful blankets. Marcia was a true representative of the Island’s values we share and hold dear to our hearts.

Jan. 7: Clifford Moller, 99, Cambridge

Jan. 8: Frank J. Errera Jr., 55, Baltimore, Md.

Jan. 9: Marianna (“Muffin”) Hillard O’Brien, 90, Edgartown
Muffin, her husband Junie, and their family enjoyed Martha’s Vineyard for 60 years, entertaining family, friends, and former students on their Havoc House porch overlooking Edgartown Harbor. Sailing with her brother Nelson’s family, cocktail cruises, beach picnics, singing toasts and dinners at EYC with her lively friends brought Muffin endless joy. As a grower and giver of love all of her life, Muffin tended her magnificent flower garden, choosing select blooms to display on the St. Andrew’s Church altar down the street.

Jan. 9: Don DePriest, 74
According to Don’s friends, he always had the fastest cars and motorcycles on Martha’s Vineyard. He was known on the Island for winning drag races and building cars that some of his friends still talk about to this day (for example, an Opel with a Buick engine that never lost a race). He entered some in car shows, and transported them to raceways and drag strips all over New England and beyond for competitions.

Jan. 20: Barbara Patrick Jones, 62, Oak Bluffs
After a short period of time teaching in New Jersey, Barbara began teaching at the Oak Bluffs School, where she remained for the next 30 years. While she taught both special education and second grade, her true calling was teaching first grade, for the second half of her career. She loved seeing emerging readers develop love of language and the written word. Beyond that, she was dedicated to helping each student feel valued and loved.

Jan. 22: Joan Gentry Patadal
Joan graduated from high school on the Island, and was the valedictorian of her class. During the summer after graduation, she attended a concert by Up With People, and auditioned to join the group. While living on the Island, Joan taught herself to play the guitar. She had a beautiful voice, but decided to go to college.

Jan. 24: Adelbert Ferreira, 72, Carson City, Nev.

Jan. 26: Edward D. (“Dennis”) Redican, 74, Oak Bluffs
A self-described dog whisperer, Dennis was known for having dog biscuits in his truck for all the dogs on Martha’s Vineyard, who knew the sound of his diesel engine.

Feb. 2: Richard J. (“Richie”) Alwardt, 65, Falmouth

Feb. 3: Robin Schoener, 67, Oak Bluffs
Robin came to Martha’s Vineyard in 2016 to take care of her friend Bob Jacobs in his last days. After his death, she decided to retire to Martha’s Vineyard permanently because of the loving friends and community that she took comfort in.

Feb. 8: Ann Chase, 94
Ann and other Island craftsmen formed the Women’s Co-Op, a cooperative where they sold their wares in Vineyard Haven. She later sold her goods at Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven, Secret Garden in Oak Bluffs, via her website, and out of her home studio near East Chop.

Feb. 9: Antone Alves (“Tony”) Bettencourt Jr., 78, Edgartown
Tony joined the Edgartown Fire Department in 1962, and moved up in the ranks to fire chief in 1988. He would remain chief for 17 years, until his retirement in 2005. His 43 years of dedicated service is something his family will cherish forever.

Feb. 14: Dennis C. Ward, 74, East Dennis
As a husband, Dennis agreeably navigated the whims of his loving wife. These ranged from disco dancing lessons, restoration of an old stone farmhouse, a new build or two, to a serendipitous transition from vacationers to year-round residents of Martha’s Vineyard, where for 15 years the family enjoyed many friends and endless activities.

Feb. 15: Nelson (“Eric”) deBettencourt, 54, California
Everyone knew Eric for his great sense of humor and a huge heart. In the ’80s he carried his boombox down Circuit Ave., blaring the hits and brightening everyone’s day. He was the class clown of the class of 1985, an honor he loved and deserved. Teachers still to this day recall what a joy Eric was to have in class.

Feb. 20: E. Brady Aikens, 85
Brady turned his family home in Oak Bluffs into Brady’s NESW, and became a loving and dedicated innkeeper. A majority of his guests were repeat visitors; he loved watching the children grow over the years, and he developed lifelong friendships with many of the guests.

Feb. 24: Frank Ferro, 90
Frank and Ursula first came to Martha’s Vineyard for their honeymoon in June 1959, when Ursula’s au pair family lent them their new home at the top of Christiantown Road (the only one on the road at that time). They bought their house nearby, on five acres in North Tisbury, in 1971, and over the ensuing years, created a beautiful family home to which they retired in 1995.

Feb. 26: Vera Shorter, 98
Vera was tireless in her community work, joining not only the NAACP, where for years she chaired the legal redress committee, and ASALH, but also serving as president of the Lagoon Pond Association, and on the affirmative action committee of the schools, and the boards of the Nathan Mayhew Seminars and the M.V. Hospital. She received many awards, among them the M.V. NAACP’s Humanitarian Award in 1996, and in 2009, the NAACP New England Chapter’s Living Legend Award.

Feb. 27: John Estrella, 69, Vineyard Haven

March 2: Glenn R. Hearn, 83, West Tisbury
Glenn attended and graduated from Tisbury School in 1955. The Vineyard’s first football team was started in 1953. This was the first Vineyard sport to involve all three high schools. Glenn was quarterback of that team for his junior and senior years.

March 4: Hans Peter Stibolt Jr., 100, Oak Bluffs
Hans and his wife Alma owned and operated two Edgartown businesses, the Edgartown Lodge Apartments and the Long Ship at Nevin Square. Hans served Oak Bluffs on the wastewater commission. He loved to fish, shellfish, and refurbish old chairs.

March 14: Edward Walter Larkosh, East Providence, R.I.

March 14: Mary Hill Tucker, 102, Oak Bluffs
On Martha’s Vineyard, Mary enjoyed the Inkwell as much as the East Chop Beach Club. Her collection of beach glass attests to the time she spent there.

March 15: Valerie Norton Murphy, Wellsboro, Pa.
Valerie loved the ocean, and spent many years on the beach or on Menemsha Pond with her partner Joe. She loved having family gatherings when her children were all on the island.

March 18: Stephen Alan Spongberg, 78, Westwood
Steve served on many committees, published numerous articles, and wrote several books, including “A Reunion of Trees: The Discovery of Exotic Plants and Their Introduction into North American and European Landscapes,” 1990, and “Island Life: A Catalog of the Biodiversity On and Around Martha’s Vineyard,” 2008, which he co-authored with Allan Keith.

March 19: Kenneth M. (“Ken”) Beebe, 76, Vineyard Haven
John Kollet, an avid fly-fisherman, met Ken at the M.V. Rod and Gun Club’s “Fly Rod Striped Bass Catch and Release Tournament” in June 1994. John and his brother had come to the Island to fish. Ken wasn’t big on tournaments, but the Catch and Release, with its emphasis on fun and camaraderie, had a special appeal. He joined it every year.

March 22: Glenna Barkan, 94

March 23: William Anthony Gamson, 87
Bill served on the board of the Chilmark library as treasurer, and managed the Boston Hill Road Association. He loved sailing his Sunfish, paddling his poke boat, bodysurfing, and showing the Vineyard to visitors from other places in the world.

March 27: Steven J. Maida, 57
Steven’s joy of cooking started as a teenager working at the Home Port Restaurant in Menemsha. Over the course of his life, he worked in a variety of restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard, as well as in California, Florida, and Nevada.

March 31: Judith Kennan, 82, East Hartford, Conn.
Judy taught her kids how to quahog and crab for blue claws; she would often teach her kids to dive to her feet and point with her toe where the quahog(s) were below her foot; this was not low tide.

No date: Audrey Quast, 90, Zumbrota, Minn., and Oak Bluffs