Barbara St. Pierre of Vineyard Haven died on Jan. 3 in Boston following a brief illness. She was 68 years young.
Barbara was the daughter of Joseph Raoul St. Pierre and Dorothy St. Pierre of Jamaica Plain and Vineyard Haven. While at Holy Cross Academy in Brookline, she frequented the stage with flair and, as editor in chief, brought humor to the previously routine yearbook. In November 2013, she attended her 50th high school reunion and gathered with old friends. In preparation for the reunion, each alumna prepared autobiographical remarks. What follows are are Barbara St. Pierre’s remarks in her own words:
From Jamaica Plain to Martha’s Vineyard
Barbara St. Pierre: Woman, Mother, Sailor and Entrepreneur
Fifty years have passed since I accepted my diploma from Holy Cross Academy.
In that time, I’ve raised two amazing, accomplished daughters, welcomed seven grandchildren into my family, started my own business and brought my family’s legacy — one that spanned 70 — years to an honorable close.
After 10 years of being the reservations manager for the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, in 1988 I started Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Reservations. At the same time, my daughters and I continued to uphold the tradition started by my parents, the operation of a camp for youngsters aged 6 to 14 years old called the St. Pierre School. In my spare time, I fueled my passion for sailing by participating in the Holmes Hole Sailing Association and sailing competitively in bi-weekly races. Over the past 15 years, I consistently placed in the top five out of a 65-boat fleet of contenders.
In 2007, after 70 consecutive years of operation, I closed the St. Pierre School.
In 2011, I sold the St. Pierre School, a former marine hospital and medical center for Martha’s Vineyard, to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Not only will the Martha’s Vineyard Museum restore the historic building to its original splendor but, among the planned exhibition halls and displays, the St. Pierre family will be featured as part of the building’s ‘living’ history.
I am looking forward to catching up with all of my fellow Holy Cross alumnae and hearing about their lives and adventures.
As commodore, Barbara St. Pierre led the Boston College women’s sailing team to victory in the national championships. She earned her bachelor’s degree as a double major in psychology and education.
Barbara St. Pierre was married to Frederick Hotchkiss, ph.d of Vineyard Haven, for a decade during which time she became the mother of Grace and Emily Hotchkiss.
Barbara was very creative and resourceful throughout her life. Upon becoming a year-round resident of Vineyard Haven in 1974, she found adventure in finding work in the winters on Martha’s Vineyard. She proved her salt by trekking out to Menemsha in the early mornings to shuck scallops at record speed. As was her nature, she made the most of any situation. While shucking, she would simultaneously compose music and lyrics resulting in a variety of songs capturing the many essences of life. With shell-torn hands, she worked them through on the piano and wrote them down on manuscript paper.
On March 23, 1977, NBC aired Barbara’s clever and semi-lighthearted song regarding the Island’s secession movement which Islanders declared as their Martha’s Vineyard National Anthem. The following summer, Barbara performed this and a number of her other songs at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs on Illumination Night.
Barbara was a service-oriented businesswoman. She served for a number of years as vice president of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce and worked to support Island hotels and inns through her Martha’s Vineyard Reservations business.
She viewed her position at the St. Pierre School as an honor and an opportunity to serve the families and children of Martha’s Vineyard. Her parents started the camp before she was born, and Barbara was a part of it every year of her life through its closure.
As Barbara noted in her autobiography above, sailing was her passion, indeed, a calling. She intuitively synchronized nature’s elements and those of the vessel leading to victory in many races with long-time friend and sailing comrade, Jerry Goodale, including the 2008 Moffett Race. She continued sailing and was enthusiastic about the upcoming 2013 racing season with the Holmes Hole Sailing Association.
Barbara had a knack for adding the “extra” that turns ordinary moments into extraordinary moments. Her infectious joie de vivre, sense of adventure and open smile, inspired others to live life to the fullest.
Barbara deeply loved her family and friends, and devoted much of her time to them. Her optimism, wise counsel, and unfailing love will always be remembered.
She is survived by her daughter Grace Hotchkiss Scarano, and grandchildren Zachary, Sophia, and Noah Scarano; and by her daughter and son in law Bill and Emily Coggins and grandchildren Connor, Matthew, Carly and Grace Coggins; and by her brother J. Raoul St. Pierre 2nd.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 11 a.m. in the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home on Edgartown Road in Oak Bluffs followed by interment in the Oak Grove Cemetery, Vineyard Haven. A visitation will be held on Friday, Jan. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Donations may be made to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, P.O. Box 1310, Edgartown, MA 02539 to support renovation of the former St. Pierre School building to become the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.