Jerry Kohlberg was a brilliant man. His incredible intellect never ceased to impress me during the more than 25 years I knew and worked with him. What impressed me more, though, was his clear moral compass. He had a true sense of right and wrong, which he applied to everything he did.

While Jerry’s death last week at his home on the Edgartown Great Pond is a personal loss for me, it is an even bigger loss for the Vineyard. Jerry and his wife Nancy have been coming to the Vineyard for 72 years, and in that time they have quietly been among the Island’s top benefactors.

Jerry and Nancy researched and studied carefully the needs of the Vineyard and then proceeded to help. They put their heart and soul into charitable endeavors designed to have a lasting impact on Vineyard life. Their many contributions included significant donations to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, the YMCA and conservation organizations. They believed in Island agriculture and were instrumental in supporting the Island Grown Initiative and in making Thimble Farm a model of sustainable farming — similar to what they have done in their year-round home in Mt. Kisco, N.Y.

They created the Vision Fellowship, which has granted significant scholarships to numerous graduates of the Vineyard schools, with a goal of bringing those skills back to the Vineyard to benefit the community. They have been active in supporting aquaculture and the sustainability of our coastal ponds. During their time here, the Kohlbergs have been in the business of community preservation. That is what led them to purchase the Vineyard Gazette. Immediately after the purchase they transferred the company’s most valuable asset — namely, a building on property which spans an entire block of downtown Edgartown — to the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, so that the building itself will be preserved in perpetuity.

I cannot state strongly enough what a kind, decent, and thoughtful person Jerry Kohlberg was and I cannot over-emphasize the impact that his philanthropy has had and will have on Vineyard life. Jerry Kohlberg was a treasure and we were blessed to have him as part of our community for so long. It was an honor to know him.

Ronald H. Rappaport is a partner at Reynolds, Rappaport, Kaplan and Hackney in Edgartown.