I just read in the Gazette about Conrad Neumann’s death. For me personally it means the end of an era. I was raised on Martha’s Vineyard. I spent my one-year-old birthday there when my father, Thomas Hart Benton, painted a portrait of me with a cat, a butterfly, a wild rose, and the distant islands in the background. In those days, to walk to the beach we went through fields — no forests, no trees, just sheep-eaten meadows full of cows and sheep. But I was afraid of the cows. And my early memories of Conrad are of him carrying me piggyback down to the beach from my house so that I wouldn’t be afraid.

My father and mother had a wonderful relationship with Conrad’s mother and grandmother. When they first came to the Vineyard in the 1920s, Daddy and Tom Craven stayed in her barn. I hadn’t seen Conrad that much over the years, but when I grew up I used to go to his lectures on oceanography at the Chilmark library. Not only was he an erudite man, but one of the funniest people who ever lived. His talks, as well as being informative, would have you rolling in the aisles. He always had that beautiful half-smile on his face. Even when Conrad was talking seriously, you were never quite sure what was going to happen next because he was going to slip a joke in about something

Simply his presence on the Vineyard with his sister Jane always made me feel like my home there is still alive. Slowly but surely, the generation of amazing

people I grew up with on the Vineyard is leaving. I send all my condolences. How sad I am that such a beautiful person is gone. The Benton family mourns Conrad’s passing. It is a great loss.

Jessie Benton