Ralph Kirkham Safford III


Ralph Kirkham Safford III (“Kirk”) of West Tisbury passed away in Boston on Jan. 10, 2024, with his wife, Kristine, by his side.

Born in Boston on Oct. 26, 1942, to Nancy B. French Safford and Ralph Kirkham Safford II, he spent much of his youth between New Haven, Conn., and Martha’s Vineyard.

It was on Martha’s Vineyard that Kirk gained a deep appreciation of the ocean, clamming alongside his dad, sailing with his friends, and in later years fishing alongside his sons and grandsons.

After graduating from the Forman School in Litchfield, Conn., in 1960, he attended Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., where he earned a B.A. in English literature. After graduation he married Susan Schambacher and moved to California, where he taught at the Etna Elementary School for two years before moving to Vancouver, B.C., to attend graduate school at the University of British Columbia. It was during that time his son Kirk Safford IV was born.

Upon completion of his master’s degree in social psychology, he was offered a teaching position at Cariboo College in Kamloops, B.C., where he taught for two years. He and his young family lived on a ranch outside of town, surrounded by a vast wilderness. His time on the West Coast was shaped by his interest in ranch living, which arose after two formative summers working at a dude ranch in Wyoming in his early teens; and by his passion for fishing, which carried him to Howe Sound each fall, where he’d mooch or troll for Pacific salmon with friends and family.

After his first marriage ended, he moved back to the East Coast of the U.S., and eventually settled in southern New Hampshire, where he found his calling in the printing industry. In 1990, he founded Publishers’ Marketeer, a company he owned and operated for more than 25 years.

In 1992, Kirk met Kristine Larsen Scheffer. They married, and the following year moved into their home in West Tisbury with her three children.

Kirk and Kristine returned to New Hampshire many times to hike and snowshoe the trails and mountains. As much as he enjoyed the ocean and the mountains, there was nowhere he was happier than at his home in West Tisbury, puttering in his gardens and sitting in front of a fire reading a good history book or watching a game, and most of all gathering with family and friends. Kirk was smart, witty, patient, and kind. We are so blessed to have had him in our lives.

Kirk was predeceased by his parents, his stepmother Sally Safford, and his sisters Nancy and Susie Safford. He is survived by his wife Kristine, son Kirk, stepdaughter Kimberly Rogers and her husband Danny Rogers, stepsons Isaiah Sheffer and his wife Emma Green Beach, and Jeremy Scheffer and his wife Isabelle Lew; along with his grandchildren, Leroy, Gabriel, Matteus, Brayden, Odin, Vera, and Maya. He is also survived by his sister Leila Corbitt and her husband John Aucoin, and his brother in-law Tony Omer; as well as many nieces and nephews.

There will be a celebration of his life on April 27.

In lieu of flowers, please perform a random act of kindness for someone in need.