Leslie J. Stark, advertising man, actor, playwright, proofreader, raconteur extraordinaire and beacon of hope for those with cancer died on Friday, July 17, at the age of 76.

There will be a memorial service at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 19, at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center. His wife, Myra, will receive visitors after the service at her home, 185 Sandpiper Lane, unit #12.

Leslie J. Stark was born on August 18, 1938 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He graduated from Poly Prep in Brooklyn and Hobart William Smith College, both of which he remained devoted to, much like everything Mr. Stark encountered. He served on the board of trustees for Hobart for many years later in life.

With boundless energy and curiosity, Leslie J. Stark fully embraced everything he did. — Ivy Ashe

Upon graduation from college, Mr. Stark attended the Yale School of Drama and acted in off-Broadway plays. But when he met his wife Myra and started a family he decided he needed a steady income and became part of what popular culture now refers to as the Mad Men age of advertising in New York city — although Mr. Stark would be quick to point out that his life did not resemble the popular series. He and Myra celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary this past December.

Mr. Stark worked for Benton & Bowles which eventually became D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B), producing television commercials and ushering in a dawn of a new age in television and marketing. In New York, he also furthered his love for jazz, frequenting the many clubs around the city. He would say that the J in his name actually stood for jazz. Other loves from his New York days that continued throughout his life were classical music and the theatre.

In 1966, Mr. Stark first visited Martha’s Vineyard, bringing Myra to meet his sister Cheryl Stark who had started a small jewelry business on the Island which would go on to become C.B. Stark Jewelers. Mr. Stark fell in love with the Vineyard and came back every summer.

“He loved Martha’s Vineyard and he couldn’t wait to move here when he retired,” Cheryl Stark said.

Leslie and Myra bought a house in West Tisbury in 1972 and retired to the Island in 2002.

Mr. Stark and his wife Myra were married for 49 years. — Sally Cohn

On the Island, Mr. Stark did not slow down at all, if anything he sped up. He was on the board of Vineyard House, the Chamber Music Society and the Cancer Support Group. He produced, directed and starred in countless plays at the Vineyard Playhouse and Island Theatre Workshop, and was a member of the Peter Luce Play Readers, which met every week. He had recently taken up the ukulele, playing regularly at the Tisbury Senior Center.

“Leslie got people to be in plays who had never acted before,” Cheryl Stark said. “He gave people confidence they didn’t know they had. He loved doing that.”

He was a board member and regular participant of the Cancer Support Group on the Island, attending meetings for decades whenever he visited the Island then every week upon moving here. Mr. Stark was a three time cancer survivor — he had been cancer free for 18 years — and he went to these meetings to help others, Myra said. His sister Cheryl agreed.

“People keep calling and telling me, if it weren’t for Leslie I don’t know what I would have done, he made it so much easier,” she said. “He was so grateful for surviving cancer that he lived every day to the fullest.”

Mr. Stark never stopped working after he retired to the Island. He served as the marketing director for the Edgartown National Bank, and in recent years as a proofreader at the Vineyard Gazette. In the newsroom, he was known for his energy and hearty laugh, his stories, a love of the hyphen and also scissors and tape as he tried to join together the journey of a story jumping to different pages. He paid particular attention to the calendar of events, which in some weeks it seemed he was taking part in nearly every one of them.

“He loved to produce things, and he was very enthusiastic about everything he did,” Cheryl said. “He was Jewish but he loved Christmas. He always had the best Christmas tree.”

“And during the last two weeks, he was producing his death,” she said. “People came to visit from prep school, from college, from work, people he hadn’t seen in 30 years but that he had kept in touch with. They all came and he would talk with them for a bit until he became too tired.”

Leslie J. Stark is survived by his wife Myra; sisters Renee Stark and Cheryl Stark and her wife Margery Meltzer; daughter Victoria Stark; son Brian B. Stark and his wife Dr. Julie Ramos, and their daughter Eliana Grace Stark.

Letters of condolence may be sent to: Myra Stark, P.O. Box 45, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568. Donations in his memory should be sent to the Martha's Vineyard Cancer Support Group, P.O. Box 2214, Vineyard Haven, MA, 02568

The Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center is located at 130 Center street, Vineyard Haven.