The Lives They Led: April – June 2021


March 13*: William Ezra (“Bill”) Shanok, 78
Bill lived every day as a new adventure, and found happiness in life’s simple pleasures: walking his precious collies in Menemsha, brush-cutting on his tractor, and fishing, as long as it was on someone else’s boat!

April 2: Corrine Rogers, 66, Oak Bluffs

April 3: Howard Scott Steward, 91, Oak Bluffs

April 3: Ralph E. Sherman, 88, Chilmark
Ralph enjoyed fishing, and was a constant Derby fisherman from 1958. He enjoyed sports, and played for the Baseball Twilight League until he was 32. Ralph was an avid duckpin bowler, and was always sought out for his knowledge in gardening and farming. He could be seen at the West Tisbury Farmers Market with his vegetables, while his wife Ethel would be selling her jams.

April 4: Clara Silva Rabbitt, 99, Vineyard Haven
A great patriot, Clara never missed a parade, and was a familiar face, always with a flag pin on her lapel, at the Tisbury polls, as a checker for more than 30 years. It was always the more flags the better for her window box at her Vineyard Haven home.

April 5: Deidre O’Connell Diodati
Deidre, a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, innkeeper, and restaurant entrepreneur, was a lifelong Islander who summered at her grandmother’s cottage in the Campgrounds every year of her childhood before living on the Island year-round after college. Deidre and her husband Henry owned and operated several restaurants in Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, and Aquinnah. Additionally, they have owned and operated the Capricorn House in Oak Bluffs for nearly 30 years.

April 9: Hope L. Sheridan, 74, Wareham

April 9: Lisa Jane Tilton, 60, West Tisbury

April 13: Elizabeth Hoyle (“Betty”) Daniels, 96, Oak Bluffs
Betty was proud of her 56 years of sobriety, and was a leader in AA, where she inspired and supported countless others. She was also active in the Friends of the Oak Bluffs Library and the Trinity Methodist Church. She will long be remembered for striving to follow the ideals of the Prayer of Saint Francis, for her unfailing optimism, and for her faith in the fundamental goodness of others.

April 15: Nicholas Wallen, 33
Nich was an avid sailor, hiker, rock climber, skier, and traveler. In between adventures, he returned to Martha’s Vineyard to spend time with his family and work as a carpenter, house painter, and landscaper, and pursue his avocation, poker.

April 18: Frances Todd Flanders, 86, Chilmark

April 19: Jennifer L. Kuehne, 46, Marstons Mills
Jen truly enjoyed the history of Cape Cod and the Islands. Her artistic talent led her to create beautiful paintings and murals throughout the Cape Cod community, in many businesses, homes, and the Marstons Mills Elementary School.

April 19: Pauline D. Sylvia, 94, Vineyard Haven
Pauline was a devout Catholic, and a lifelong communicant of St. Augustine Church in Vineyard Haven. She loved her home and taking care of her yard. She always kept the town sidewalk out front nice and clean.

April 20: Leonard Tawayena Kapungu, 80, Chinyabowa, Zimbabwe, and Oak Bluffs

April 20: Peter B. Herrmann, 75, Edgartown
Peter truly loved life, and lived it to its fullest, whether fishing with his grandkids, hunting with his many friends, or trying to knock a softball out of the park when he played for the Nine Wonders softball team of Oak Bluffs. He worked for the Vineyard Transit Authority, driving buses around the Island and smiling at everyone he met, right up to the time of his death.

April 23: Sean E. Murphy, 59, Edgartown
Sean was very active in the community. In his early years, he took pride in holding various jobs, including being a volunteer firefighter and entertaining tourists as a tour guide with his scintillating storytelling. He could often be seen at Oak Bluffs Harbor lending a hand, or playing hockey at M.V. Ice Arena. More recently, Sean was on the board of the Vineyard Trust, a wastewater commissioner, and was honored to be the Edgartown moderator.

April 26: Cheryl Palmer, 63, East Falmouth

April 29: Courtney Caesar Hall

April 30: Ruth O. Schaffner, 96, Oak Bluffs
Ruth possessed boundless energy, and was a member of the YMCA. She nurtured her giving spirit by volunteering at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Windemere for more than 30 years, ringing the bell at Christmas for the Salvation Army, and at the West Tisbury Congregational Church making wreaths and working at their festivals.

May 2: Peter Osborn Bettencourt, 81, Edgartown

May 2: Joyce Lucille Rickson, 82, Vineyard Haven
Joyce remained in her home until she moved into a one-level apartment at Havenside, in Vineyard Haven, in 2018, that had a big picture window where she would spend hours viewing the ocean, the bridge, and Steamship Authority boats going back and forth. She often expressed that her apartment was her “heaven on earth,” and how she appreciated her wonderful neighbors, and the manager, Lucinda.

May 2: Stephen L. Tanguay, 65, Oak Bluffs

May 3: Phyllis Jampol
After retiring in 2005, Phyllis and her husband Steven moved to their Vineyard home in 2007, where Phyllis could bring her energy to their gardens, the Community Solar Greenhouse, and the Island Food Pantry, as well as help daughter Lily in her horseback-riding passion.

May 4: Robert Fried Fokos
After bringing his family to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard in 1978, Robert fell in love with the Island. He visited every summer until finally settling in Chilmark year-round in 1999.

May 7: Mannie Mass, 101, Floral Park, N.Y.

May 7: Esther (“Mimi”) Casey, 94
​In 1999, having lost her husband John, Esther moved to Martha’s Vineyard, to live near her son Don and his daughter, Kiana, who had by then dubbed her “Mimi.” She purchased a house in Edgartown, and filled her days by helping to take care of Kiana when she was not in daycare or school. The two were as thick as thieves, and remained so, even as Kiana became an adult.

May 10: Jerome Everett (“Jerry”) Rogers, 80, Oak Bluffs
Jerry spent most of his career running Rogers’ Freight and Coca-Cola Distribution together with his father and brother Jimmy. If you drank beer or soda on Martha’s Vineyard during the ’60s to the ’90s, chances are Jerry delivered it. After the businesses were sold, Jerry spent his summers working for the VTA, shuttling passengers all over the Island. He loved being around people and getting them safely to their destinations.

May 11: Faith Cushing Ryder, 89, Lancaster, N.H.

May 11: Betty Mills Vantine, 76
Betty was a regular substitute teacher, owned a high school sports poster business, with her last and most treasured career at the Vineyard Gazette, as its sales director for Edgartown.

May 12: Fonnie Morse Austin, 103, Vineyard Haven
As a child, Fonnie spent her winters in West Roxbury and her summers at the family house on West Chop. She loved sailing the family Beetle Cat, the beach, and the Vineyard life.

May 21: Ronald R. Drake, Edgartown
Ron and his wife, Diane, chose to make Martha’s Vineyard their full-time home in 2009 because of their love for this Island community, and the joy of living near the water, where Ron enjoyed fishing and metal detecting.

May 21: Maureen Healy, 84, West Tisbury
Maureen and her family visited Menemsha each summer to see her grandparents and other relatives. Many wonderful memories grew out of her time in Menemsha. A favorite was when she and Marjorie evacuated to ride out a hurricane with the young seamen. Another was learning about her great-grandfather, Samuel Howard Flanders, who served as lightkeeper at the Gay Head Lighthouse. With each retelling of this story, Maureen would grumble about the fact that he was fired in 1861 when the Democrats lost the White House.

May 21: Heidi Clarke Schultz, 94
Heidi’s 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.

May 21: James John (“Jay”) Rose Jr., 51, Vineyard Haven

May 22: Karen Ann Shaw, 55, Oak Bluffs

May 23: Gail Spear
While on Martha’s Vineyard, Gail was a volunteer at the Island Food Pantry. She also delivered meals for Meals on Wheels, sponsored by Elder Services of Cape Cod Martha’s Vineyard office. Gail was proud of her membership in the Want to Know Club, Martha’s Vineyard, a women’s organization here on Island for over 125 years.

May 23: Edward L. Ciancio, 76, East Derry, N.H.
Ed was an avid golfer, and loved to fish. A proud moment for him was winning the 10th annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby when he was 10 years old.

May 23: Raj Rani Datta, 87, Oak Bluffs

May 23: Brian Robert (“Fern”) Viera, 63
Time on the water was something Fern took great pleasure in, spending many hours digging clams and quahogs from Tashmoo and Lagoon ponds and sharing them with family and friends. There are many memories of Fern during the scallop season on the Ruth E, the boat he named after his loving mother. He was sometimes referred to as the Speed Scalloper, as he had a bigger, faster motor than the other scallop boats. Barry Stone would say, “Everyone watch out, Captain Fernie at the helm!”

May 24: Merle A. Beaulieu, 82, Oak Bluffs
In 1963, Merle moved with her two sons to Martha’s Vineyard, after one memorable vacation as a teenager. While living on the Vineyard, Merle worked in a variety of jobs, and eventually retired from the town of Tisbury after working as an assistant cook at the Tisbury School.

May 24: Maria J. (“Jesse”) Williams, 64, Oak Bluffs
Maria was a naturally upbeat person, and as such was a much loved and familiar Oak Bluffs figure, particularly in her younger years. During the more than 50-year ownership of her family’s home facing Veira Park, she could often be seen in and around the park and businesses near her home — especially Smoke ’n Bones and Tony’s Market, where she was a daily visitor, and the staff were all very kind and generous with her.

May 26: Ernest O. Barrett Jr., 84, Vineyard Haven
Returning from the service, Ernest worked for Carroll’s Trucking, Rogers Trucking, Coca-Cola Co., and E.C. Cottle as a truck driver, and years as a lumberyard worker for Cottle’s … He worked with J.K. Scanlon as a clerk of the works to build the first Woodside Village, Island Elderly building in Oak Bluffs, and as a clerk of the works for the West Tisbury School. After that, he worked for the Steamship Authority, and the Vineyard Transit Authority as a bus driver, until he retired.

May 26: Harold (“Hank”) Bell, 94
Hank was a fierce, competitive sailor on Menemsha Pond in Chilmark in the 1960s and 1970s, and then again with one of his granddaughters in the 1990s. He also loved fishing and lobstering around the Vineyard from a succession of center-console powerboats. His greatest lifelong friendships were largely formed on Squibnocket, Stonewall, and Lucy Vincent beaches in Chilmark, where for six decades they would sit together and discuss the greatest events of the day.

May 26: Siew Poh Ong (“David”), 62
Siew was a true Island icon. Everyone recognized Siew in his trademark paint-splattered plaid jacket. His Island career was diverse. Many houses in the Oak Bluffs historical district benefited from Siew’s talented caretaking skills. To Siew, his clients were family. Being very frugal, he especially loved a bargain. Yet one Christmas, he extravagantly bestowed lobsters as gifts. He often bragged about how he could grow an unending supply of tomatoes from just one trash barrel–size pot. He participated and contributed wholeheartedly to the current buzz of Island life.

May 28: David D. Underwood, 90
David’s favorite pastime on the Island was to walk to the Inkwell each morning, sit on the bench that his daughters had dedicated to their parents, and chat with friends, old and new.

June 1: The Rev. Robert Lee (“Bob”) Hammett, 92, Oak Bluffs and Manchester-by-the-Sea
In 1962, Bob and his wife Sally decided to purchase a house on Martha’s Vineyard in Oak Bluffs, as a place to put down summer roots. Located on East Chop, the house overlooked the Sound and was a place of many fond times and memories for three generations of Hammetts. Bob enjoyed a good game of chess with his grandchildren, and could often be found with a paintbrush and easel, painting the lighthouse, the family house, and many other familiar Island scenes. His art could always be found at the annual Summer Art Show at the Tabernacle in the Campgrounds. Bob was manager of the East Chop Beach Club for two summers, and assistant manager of the Shiretown Inn for a brief period.

June 2: Ann Helen Sherman, 81, Edgartown
​​Summer on the Island was Ann’s ultimate happy place -— sunbathing and swimming at State Beach, taking visiting friends for a tour, and watching the glorious sunset at Menemsha Beach. Her most favorite island experience was the annual Oak Bluffs Fireworks. Every year after the fireworks’ famed grand finale, she’d exclaim, “Wasn’t that WONDERFUL!? Best fireworks yet!”

June 3: John F. Spindler, 91, Tempe, Ariz., and West Tisbury
On Martha’s Vineyard, he researched and wrote a real estate covenant for a road association to improve and maintain Charles Neck Way, Vineyard Meadow Farms, and Waldron’s Bottom Roads.

June 5: Priscilla Lynne Sylvia, 81, Oak Bluffs
Priscilla’s teaching career in Oak Bluffs, which lasted 35 years, saw generations of Oak Bluffs families, and she is uniformly and fondly remembered as a tough teacher and the best they ever had. Priscilla became involved in the planning board in Oak Bluffs in 1978. This was the start of her involvement in local planning, land preservation, and town politics, which would last for 40 years.

June 6: Everett Jay Prescott, 98, Oak Bluffs

June 13: Elizabeth Gale (“Betty”) Cottle, 91, West Tisbury
Betty was an Island girl, through and through. Betty would often say that she had the best childhood. She loved to tell stories of roaming around West Chop, picking flowers before the summer people arrived. Walking to Bayside and jumping off the pier. Meeting her friends under the streetlights to play, or go to the movies. She would tell how the streets would be closed so the kids could go sledding.

June 15: Jerry A. Wiener, 73, Aquinnah

June 18: Marianne Morelli, 75, Oak Bluffs

June 19: Walter (“Hilly”) Thompson, 83, Vineyard Haven
Hilly spent one of his final days lying in the sun in a lawn chair as grandchildren and a half-dozen dogs ran around him playing. He sipped rum and enjoyed some chocolate cake as he looked out at the Vineyard Sound, enjoying the kind of weather he often referred to as a “bluebird day.”

June 20: Jon R. (“Randy”) Lima, 55
Jon was former head “Gopher Hunter” at the Royal and Ancient Chappaquiddick Links.

June 23: Irene Hallie Mentzel, 92

June 25: Lon Allan Jackson, 69
When possible, Lon returned to Martha’s Vineyard, after spending summers there in his youth with family. He loved fishing, and cherished lifelong friends on the Island off Cape Cod, and in “Chambana.”

No Date: Steve (“Lens”) Rogers, Winter Park, Fla.
Steve had resided on Martha’s Vineyard since around 1995, and worked for a long time as building manager for Larry Levine in Vineyard Haven.

No Date: Dorothy Ellen Morrissey Szekely Holt

* Shanock’s remembrance was missing from last week’s “The lives they led.”