Anthony K. Van Riper, a longtime Vineyard visitor and resident, died at his Vineyard Haven home on June 26. He was 74.
Mr. Van Riper's life was intertwined with that of the Vineyard for seven decades. The only child of Charles King and Helen Dorothy (Ordway) Van Riper, he first came to the Island as a summer visitor in 1933. His family later moved to Vineyard Haven year-round, when his father opened the Van Riper ship model shop on Beach Road. After attending preparatory school in New Hampshire, serving in the Pacific during World War II and earning a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Arizona, Mr. Van Riper moved to the Island full time in the mid-1950s. He left in 1957 to pursue a master's degree and a teaching career in Boston but returned for every summer and most school vacations. He retired to the Vineyard with his beloved wife Jan in the summer of 1981, and, though they traveled widely together, they always considered the Island their home.
Teaching was the heart of Mr. Van Riper's professional life. He taught grades seven, eight and nine at the Tisbury School, and later courses in English literature and composition at Emerson College, Newton Junior College and The Nathan Mayhew Seminars. He also loved to teach informally, as a youth baseball coach, a Boy Scout leader and an adult sailing instructor.
A fluid and versatile writer, Mr. Van Riper published newspaper stories, magazine articles, short stories and poems. Many of the latter were collected in Velvet Tides (1964) and Widow's Walk (1991). He delighted friends and family with his ability to produce clever, fitting poems for special occasions. He also loved the stage and served as writer, director or performer in amateur productions ranging from the Calamities of 1947 musical revue to Island Theatre Workshop's 1991 production of The Madwoman of Chaillot.
Mr. Van Riper was a Renaissance man, and his interests reflected it. He was an accomplished sailor of both one-design and cruising boats, especially his emerald green Vineyard Fifteen, Tyche. He served the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club for 25 years in a variety of offices, including that of commodore from 1979 to 1981. He was a dedicated golfer and bridge player and a skilled amateur pianist who often performed 1930s and forties standards at parties. After retirement, he immersed himself in the study of prehistoric archaeology, local history and genealogy -- interests that made him, for 20 years, a leading member of the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society. He traveled throughout Europe and North America and -- when at home on the shores of Vineyard Haven Harbor -- enjoyed books, music and the company of his family.
He is survived by two sons from his first marriage, Charles K. Van Riper II and Christopher G. Van Riper. He also is survived by his wife of 41 years, Janice Patricia (Riley) Van Riper; his son, Anthony Bowdoin Van Riper; his step-grandson, Josef Mundt, and his granddaughter Katharine Van Riper. He lives on in their memories and in the memories of countless friends on and off-Island.
A memorial service for Mr. Van Riper will be held at 11 a.m. on July 11 at the First Congregational Church in West Tisbury. His ashes will be scattered on Vineyard Sound. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society, Box 827, Edgartown, MA 02539.