Shirley Tankard Robinson and I worked together running the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Youth Center for almost a decade. During that time she showed me by example how to transcend those things in life that tend to sour us. She exuded love and kindness. She was fair minded and always willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Mostly she had a gift for bringing out the best in people.

In thinking about Shirley, I can’t help thinking about her family of origin, the Tankards. Of course her brother Bob is my dear friend, my brother and the godfather of one of my sons. Like so many others, my family loves their whole family.

When the Tankards moved to the Vineyard, little did any of us realize the impact they would have on us as a community. They brought the qualities of tolerance, understanding and kindness with them, all qualities we hold dear and treasure as part of our Island culture.

So as we move into the new year, I hope you will reflect upon the life of Shirley and her lovely family, and carry her spirit forward in your daily lives, as I will try to do. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could create a movement that extends beyond our shores spreading to help make this a kinder world, something I know most of our hearts desire.

Happy New Year to all!

Tom Bennett lives in Edgartown.