Alma L. (Spearwater) Benson of West Tisbury, died peacefully on Nov. 19 at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital after a brief illness. She was 93. Alma was the devoted wife of 55 years of the late Franklin W. Benson.
She was born on March 9, 1920 in Norwood to Carl and Alberta Spearwater. She attended Norwood schools and graduated from Bridgewater State College with a teaching degree. The superintendent of the Martha’s Vineyard schools came to her college to interview for teachers. He said he had an opening in West Tisbury, so she jumped at the opportunity for employment, even though she had never heard of Martha’s Vineyard. She hopped on the ferry and sailed into her future. Alma taught grammar school in West Tisbury for a couple of years in the early 1940s. She had fond memories of her students and truly enjoyed being a teacher.
Alma met her future husband shortly after she arrived on the Island. She had taken a room in his aunt’s house in North Tisbury, and he would come to visit his aunt quite often. Soon Franklin proposed to her and in November of 1944, they eloped and were married by a Methodist minister in New Bedford. Alma wore an aqua street-length dress, brown hat and matching accessories. She finished out the school year teaching. Afterward, she did a little substitute teaching and became a homemaker. Her husband was a fisherman so she helped him mend nets and paint buoys. She often referred to herself as Franklin’s “handyman.” Together they made a lot of wonderful memories. She loved living on the Vineyard and was “grateful to live in this beautiful place.” Alma enjoyed living off of the land, picking berries and eating the fish her husband caught. Eventually, she decided to go back to work. She was hired by E. C. Cottle lumber yard in Lambert’s Cove and began a 45-year career. She continued to work until the spring of 2012 when she retired at the age of 92. This was a special place for her because of the customers, her fellow employees, and, especially, the Cottle family, who she always referred to as her second family.
She was an active member of the Lambert’s Cove Church for many years and taught Sunday school. Recently, she was a member of the West Tisbury Congregational Church. She was also a longtime member of the West Tisbury Grange.
Alma enjoyed watching the birds and chipmunks at the feeder. She loved cats. One of her favorite pastimes was reading historical romance novels. She would never turn down an invitation to lunch or dinner at Linda Jean’s Restaurant, where the waitresses served her well. Of course, she would need to be home in time to watch her favorite television show, Wheel of Fortune.
Besides her parents and husband, she was also predeceased by her two sisters, Shirley Harvey of West Virginia and Barbara Marden of Bellingham.
Auntie Alma is survived by her nieces and nephews, Margaret Maida, Donna Barry, Robert Anderson, Linda Carroll, Betsy and Michael Gately, Glen Medowski, Kent Medowski, Lorraine Henderson, Alberta Woodson, Carl Harvey and Cindy Marden. Grandnieces and grandnephews, Charles, Norman, Steven and Jeffrey Maida; Linda and Robert Coutinho; Ashley Medowski; Jennifer and Mark Wisniowski, and Michael Gately. Great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews, Zachary and Cody Coutinho; Madeline Fisher; Chelsea Maida, and Cole Wisniowski. She is also survived by many loyal friends, co-workers and neighbors. Alma will be missed by all who had the honor to know her.
A graveside service was held on Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Lambert’s Cove Cemetery in West Tisbury, officiated beautifully by the Rev. Cathlin Baker.
Donations may be made in her memory to the West Tisbury Congregational Church Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 3000, PMB 3111, West Tisbury, MA 02575.
Arrangements were under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home. Please visit ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.