As the nation celebrates the remarkable life of Milton-born George Herbert Walker Bush, I recall a group of black Republicans from Massachusetts who were strong supporters of Bush 41, and had longstanding ties to the Vineyard. As would be expected, the brilliant career of our own Sen. Edward W. Brooke was the driving force behind many people of color becoming actively involved in his campaign and ultimately the Republican Party.

I think of the late Bill Cobham, whose family owned a cottage on Plymouth avenue for decades, who worked as a staunch Brooke supporter and played many roles in the party apparatus. Just up the street from Bill is the very well known Hon. Wayne Budd who was not only the US Attorney from Massachusetts but he was also appointed Associate Attorney General by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. Wayne’s responsibilities included overseeing civil rights, environmental issues, tax, civil and antitrust divisions at the Department of Justice as well as the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Indeed, until Eric Holder became the Attorney General by appointment of President Obama, Wayne held the highest rank of any person of color in the Justice Department. A truly groundbreaking position.

My cottage is just a few streets over from Wayne and Bill and I worked with both of them in Brooke’s campaign, serving subsequently as Secretary of Transportation and Construction and Board Chair of the MBTA in the Republican administration of Gov. Bill Weld. Retired Judge Ed Redd, near Farm Neck, worked with me to spearhead a group called Bay State Blacks for Bush when he was running first for Vice President with Reagan. After his election, this group hosted a national confab in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. Bush was joined that night by Art Fletcher who was appointed Assistant Secretary of Labor in the Nixon Administration and was appointed by President Bush to head the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Bill, Wayne, Ed and I were also joined over the years by Nate Stevens who retired to his cottage on New York avenue after many years of working in the trenches for the party. Nate was a Marine Corps veteran and was a lucid writer on all things politics, publishing op-ed columns and newsletters up and down the East coast. George Herbert Walker Bush will be remembered for his bravery as a very young fighter pilot in the Navy, his broad range of experiences as Vice President, envoy to China, head of the CIA, UN Ambassador and more. But in this holiday season of giving and thankfulness, I am reminded of parts of his speech accepting the presidential nomination at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans, La. where he likened America’s clubs and volunteer organizations to “a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.” He repeated this notion in his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1989, as follows:

“I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good.” And so it is my wish that whatever you celebrate be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or none of these, but have a caring and grateful heart, that you will spend time volunteering and contribute some treasure to a worthy Vineyard organization serving the needy and the deserving. I recently received a notice from Wendy Harman about the Martha’s Vineyard Teddy Bear Suite in their 8th Annual event featuring hundreds of creatively decorated teddy bears that inspire children’s imaginations to fly. All proceeds from this event go to the Vineyard Boys and Girls Club after school food program. Or perhaps you can contribute to a sober house, a senior citizen location, a food pantry, a clothing dispenser. These and so many more worthy programs on the Island would graciously accept your assistance. Share your blessings generously.

From the Taylor family to your family, we wish each of you a very happy season of giving and caring as we finish December and start the New Year. Paradise on earth is the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting!

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