Estelle Ruth (Kirkpatrick) Reagan, “Stelle,” 95, passed away peacefully at her home, the Attleboro House, in Oak Bluffs, on July 27, 2023. She was the beloved wife of Robert (“Bart”) I. Reagan Sr.
Estelle was born to William and Lucinda Kirkpatrick in Providence, R.I., on Dec. 28, 1927. She made her entrance about 25 minutes before twin sister Esther May. Throughout their lives, the twins never lived more than one mile from each other, oftentimes even closer. Estelle was raised in East Providence, R.I., and graduated from East Providence High School in 1945. She attended Bryant College (now University), then went on to manage the printing room at Brown University, and later to assist her father with his business, Kirkpatrick Co.
As a young couple, William and Lucinda Kirkpatrick vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard, always staying at the Attleboro House. When Stelle, Es, and their elder sister Claire were children, the Kirkpatricks continued the summer tradition of staying at the Attleboro House when visiting Oak Bluffs. In 1944, the family became full-time summer residents when the Attleboro House was purchased by Bill Kirkpatrick. Stelle and her sisters served meals to the guests, and then enjoyed the usual summertime activities in Oak Bluffs.
Estelle met her husband, Bart Reagan, a native of Arlington, in Oak Bluffs. They married in 1953, raising a family of six children in East Providence, R.I., while spending summers on Martha’s Vineyard, staying at the Top Knot, their summer residence on Ocean Park. After enjoying over 20 summers at the Top Knot, Stelle and Bart purchased the Attleboro House in 1982 from her mother’s estate, and together they became the new innkeepers. After Bart’s death in 1991, daughter Suzanne assisted Estelle, and together they kept the doors of the inn open to all: newcomers, returning guests, friends, and family alike. While the inn is now run by the next generation of Reagans, Estelle continued her residence at the Attleboro House until her passing, and many will remember her enjoying the harbor views from her porch swing.
Those who knew her will also remember her impact on the community around her, both on Martha’s Vineyard and in East Providence. She loved her children fiercely, and gave generously to advance their activities, from converting the living room into a warehouse for Girl Scout cookie distribution to ferrying various children around town in the Reagan station wagon. She also donated much time to the Rhode Island Swimming Coaches and Officials Association. Using an old manual typewriter, Estelle spent many hours recording swimming data used to aid in recordkeeping. She and Bart attended swim meets throughout New England, serving as timers and judges. She worked tirelessly to support her children’s swimming efforts.
Stelle was also known to be a superb knitter. She, her sisters, and her mother were seldom without needles and a skein of yarn, and much of the fruit of their labor was donated to charitable causes. Many babies born at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and the Women and Infants Hospital in Providence left with hats made by Stelle. She was easily able to master other handicrafts, such as sewing, crocheting, furniture refinishing, and recaning antique chairs. Estelle recaned many dozens of the chairs used at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs.
Throughout her life, Stelle was an avid sports fan, closely following the Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox; just about any sporting event on television would do. She rode her bicycle to East Chop Beach Club for a daily summer swim well into her eighties. Estelle was a lifelong member of Hope Congregational Church in Riverside, R.I., and continued her weekly worship via television.
Estelle spent almost 40 years as a snowbird, wintering in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., for over 20 years before relocating to Bonita Springs, Fla., for an additional 17 years. She loved her time in Florida, enjoying the fine weather, time spent with family and other Vineyard retirees, and especially her own built-in swimming pool.
Family meant everything to Estelle. She loved her children: Janet, William, Casey, Robert, and John Reagan, and Suzanne (Reagan) Pond. She was an adoring Gram to 14 grandchildren: Lesliann, William, Jacqueline, and Hayley Panek; Rachel Reagan Jones, and William, Felix, Victoria, Samantha, Ellen, and John Reagan; Lauren and Andrea Metell; and the late Jason Reagan. Eight great-grandchildren were lucky enough to know their Great-Gram: Julia, Evalyn, William, Robbie, Jaelynn, Caiden, Teddy, and Charlie. She was the mother-in-law of Wendy Traenkle Reagan, Lisa McGowan Reagan, and Stephan Pond. She leaves several nieces and nephews, including Nancy Gardner, Ray Farland, and Lucinda and David Flint. She was the aunt of the late Jack Palangio. She was predeceased by her sisters, Esther M. Farland and Claire E. Palangio.
A graveside service will be held on Sunday, August 20, at 4:30 pm in the Sacred Heart Cemetery, on Vineyard Avenue in Oak Bluffs. A celebration of life will follow at the East Chop Beach Club at 5 pm.
Memorial donations in Estelle’s memory may be made to MVCMA, P.O. Box 1685, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557; in the memo line, write “Tabernacle Restoration Fund.”
Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs. Visit chapmanfuneral.com for online guestbook and information.