Several East Choppers met informally on Saturday, Feb. 21 on the 8:15 a.m. boat. It had been a long January, and we were looking forward to getting off the island for the day. Of course we talked about all the snow on the Vineyard; but we were shocked when we arrived in Lincoln, Mass., and tried to find St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, hidden amidst eight-foot snow drifts. We were headed for Bart Skeen’s memorial service.

Bart died on Feb. 7, and the service two weeks later at St. Anne’s was both lovely and touching. Grandson Tommy Skeen read a poem about dying. Granddaughter Grace Skeen and Bart’s brother Doug read from the scripture. Son Peter, in an emotional eulogy, highlighted some of the main events in Bart’s life, and reviewed his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Michael Garfield, a lifelong friend, spoke about Bart’s long and happy marriage with Henny, their many travel adventures together, Bart’s passion for Scottish history, and his dedicated volunteer work for the church.

After the service a luncheon and reception was held at the church. It was there that 50 or more East Choppers relived Bart’s life and spoke about how excited they were about getting back to the Vineyard this summer. I left the church with Lyn feeling honored to have known Bart and proud of my membership in the East Chop community. The community had been there for Bart and the Skeen family, a fact that Henny, who had been rock solid throughout both the service and reception, graciously acknowledged.

Louise Curme Horton was due to turn 90 this April. Her three daughters, Liz Armstrong, Elli Poerner, and Diane Horton planned a family reunion birthday party for May 9. Sadly, Louise died on February 9 at Windemere.

But the party went on as planned. Throughout that second week in May, 70 Curmes, representing five generations, descended on Mack Cooper’s house on Madison avenue. They came from Australia, Germany, Spain, Canada, California, Washington, Minnesota, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts.

On the early afternoon of May 9, they all traveled to State Beach at the second bridge to scatter Louise’s ashes. They then returned to Mack’s house for a family barbecue. Though no formal speeches were given, Louise was remembered as a gracious host, a gentle soul who looked for the good in everybody, someone who was extremely well read with a wealth of East Chop stories. At an earlier service held at Havenside in Vineyard Haven for Louise’s old Vineyard friends, Emma Carmichael, her Boston roommate after college, contributed several stories of their long life together.

While together at Mack’s house, the family relived fun times at the “gray house,” the house recently owned by the Sanders family, and the “pink house” next door. The gray house was built by George and Lillian Curme in 1931. George and Lillian built the pink house in the early 1950s to accommodate their growing family. The Curme family goes way back in our history, so it was thrilling to have them return to East Chop.

Two important memorial services will be held in July to honor special ladies. Leigh Ivison died way too young. East Choppers will never forget her courage and grace while fighting pancreatic cancer. Leigh’s life will be celebrated at Union Chapel on July 5. Emma Carmichael, mother of Lee Hunsaker and Anne Lemenager, was the adopted mother to many East Choppers and our anchor to the past. Emma’s life will be celebrated on July 26 at the East Chop Tennis Club.

Memorial services are about honoring a life and celebrating a community. Jane Coe has worked diligently to build our community through her two editions of East Chop Families. She is currently putting together edition number three. Because of the enormous undertaking of this task, I have consented to help her. If you haven’t sent me your update for the new book, please do so by emailing it to me at the below address. Many thanks!

Finally, several East Chop volunteers at Featherstone have asked me to mention their upcoming gala at Farm Neck Golf Club on Monday, July 6. The gala will feature a silent auction, raw bar, heavy hors d’oeuvres, wine, and beer. Make sure you RSVP by Monday, June 29, at 508-693-1850.

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