East Chop said goodbye to one of the finest members of our community, Dave Cunniffe, at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Oak Bluffs on Wednesday, June 15. The church was packed, with Father Michael Nagle presiding over the service. Shelley and Wes Brown performed three beautiful solos and the organ music. David Cunniffe Jr. and Bob Huss read from the Bible. In addition to Judy, family members in attendance included Susan Garrett, David and Diana Cunniffe, Casey and Jennifer Cunniffe, Kevin Cunniffe, and seven grandchildren. After the service, Judy fed us all. Her composure and quiet dignity during both events will long be remembered.

The day after Dave died I spent the morning sitting on the roller repairing tennis courts. I couldn’t help but think of Dave as I kept running into projects he had helped us with over the years. He rarely missed a workday, and he came with tools and lots of know-how. Without fanfare or fuss, Dave delivered with his quiet competence and good cheer.

Les Woodcock will miss going to First and Third luncheons with Dave. Dave proposed him for the club. Bob Huss will especially miss their fall scalloping expeditions. Fred Hancock will have to find a new friend with whom to share tools. Lyn Herrick will miss Dave’s reassuring presence each November when she turns off the water at the house for the winter.

At the end of the service, John Potter spoke for all of us when he eulogized Dave as a gentle man, a man with an engaging smile, a man of a thousand kindnesses. We will all miss this thoroughly good and decent man.

I am also sad to report that we recently lost Jack Richey, brother of Jean Ross. Jack was best known as a fun-loving member of the Brooks clan. He graduated from Westminster Academy and the University of Virginia, and went on to become an IBM executive. He excelled at sports, especially sailing, which he loved to do at the Vineyard. He and his wife, Putsie, would often cruise from Norwalk, Connecticut to the Vineyard. Many old-timers here will miss him, as will his cousins and family.

One of the things I like to do in my first column is to thank all of our full-time residents for work done during the off-season to improve the community. Jim Davin organized two workdays at the tennis club, and things are really beginning to shape up. Bill O’Brien has done similar good work with several volunteers at the beach club. John Breckenridge, the park chairman for the East Chop Association, and his crew have refurbished several of the association’s parks over the winter. Finally, the usual cast of actively engaged retirees has collected trash over several days throughout the Chop. We owe all these good people a big thanks.

Regular readers of the Gazette will recognize this as my first column in 2011. Please make sure it is not my last one by sending your news to my e-mail address above. Many thanks!