Helen Vanderhoop Manning Murray died Jan. 25. It has been a rather difficult week for us to get through, but the support and encouragement from so many of her friends, fellow students, and family has made the transition much easier. Helen was our adored stepmother for the past 48 years since the day we met her in 1960 and we have been through years of love, laughter and tears along the way. She was part of many great moments in our lives and lots of cherished memories that will be a part of us forever. She was always an educator and taught us a lot about life. Judith, Jyl, and I thank all of your for your encouragement and support over the past week and the past few years. She is at peace now — the peace she deserves. She led an incredibly wonderful life and has been an inspiration to all along the way during her journey.

Welcome to our newest Aquinnah resident, Bangii Kai Albert Bellecourt, who was born Jan. 8 at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He is the son of Raina Isham and Mekenock Bellecourt, the grandson of Albert Bellecourt and Carole Ann Vandal, great-grandson of Edmund Silva of Oak Bluffs and the late Wenonah Madison of Aquinnah, and great-great-grandson of our late Medicine Man Napoleon Madison and his wife, Nannetta Vanderhoop Madison.

Condolences to the family of Louise Aldrich Bugbee who died this week in Florida. Louise was our former next door neighbor for 11 years in Oak Bluffs, fellow Vineyard Gazette columnist, and co-worker at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

Condolences to the family and friends of Richard Fitzpatrick. He oftentimes provided service above and beyond for many of the physicians through my work with him over the years.

Sincerest condolences to the family of Mrs. Jennie (Nikki) Lana who died Jan. 30 at Windemere on the morning of her 91st birthday. The Lana family has been a part of Lobsterville and Aquinnah for the past half century. She was predeceased by her husband Albert Lana Sr. in 1978. She is survived by her children: Barbara, Albert, John, Susan, and Judith and their families. Her newest great-grandson, Aaron Anthony, was born Jan. 26. Visiting hours will be held on Saturday at Chapman Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs at 11 a.m. with a graveside service in Aquinnah at 1 p.m.

Joan Gentry Patadal remains a patient at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. It is anticipated that she will be home within a week. In the meantime, she would appreciate cards or telephone calls.

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Martha’s Vineyard will have a kickoff event on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital cafeteria. Anyone interested in forming a team for the 2008 Relay should attend. Team captain kits will be available along with other information about organizing and motivating your team. The relay will be held at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School on June 13 and 14. For further information, please email Amy Sullivan at Shmoopiemv@aol.com.

Happy birthday wishes today to Angie Waldron, who shares the day with Vanessa Lavadinho. Mark Shea will celebrate on Feb. 2, as will Robert Heine. Janet Belain will party on Feb. 3.

Very special happy birthday wishes this week to Rosemary Brown as she observes a major milestone on Feb. 6.