Neither thunder, pouring rain nor the Red Sox-Yankees series could stop the 50th wedding celebration of Oak Bluffs’ favorite couple. Debbie and Lewis Duane Jackson!

About 45 friends and family conspired with Duane and event planner Barbara Edelin to surprise Debbie, who was stunned as she walked into Garde East restaurant last Saturday night to cheers and screams from her friends.

Duane and Debbie met at Hampton University and, like so many young couples, came to Boston for graduate school and made it their home. Diane Patrick, the former First Lady of Massachusetts, spoke about meeting Duane at Andrew Jackson High School in Queens, N.Y. and how close she and her husband have been with the Jacksons over the years.

I attended Richmond Hill, a rival high school. Both schools had competitive basketball teams. From those early days, basketball has been a constant part of Duane’s life. He, Flash Wiley, Hassell McClellan, Milton Benjamin, John Jenkins, Ronald Carroll and Robert Phane all reminisced about playing basketball at the Williams School in Vineyard Haven for the legendary Soul Cup in summers past.

The event was a total surprise to Debbie! Her sister, brother and the college classmates who introduced her to Duane all conspired to convince her that she was going to a quiet dinner with family.

The Vineyard was the perfect place for the celebration. Duane’s mother owned a cottage on Narragansett ever since he was a kid. Eventually, he and Debbie got their own place overlooking Vineyard Haven harbor. Working remotely on the Island during the Covid pandemic, both have enjoyed considerable time here with their grandchildren Willa, Austin and Hudson.

Their love and devotion to each other were apparent to all. Debbie teared up while talking, calling Duane her warrior for all seasons.

On Sunday morning, several from the party stopped by for champagne and brunch, capping off a spectacular weekend of friendship, love and camaraderie. Debbie was still asking how many knew about the ruse!

Walking into the Mink Meadows clubhouse last Friday, I saw a sign on the door reading “William McLaurin scored a Hole in One Monday, Sept. 20.” The shot was witnessed by painter, poet and frequent golfer Harry Seymour! Bill’s club of choice was a five wood.

In the world of golf etiquette, the golfer with this kind of skill is expected to purchase a round of drinks for all in the clubhouse. Colleagues missed the treat and Bill saved some money because Mink does not have a bar.

Friends and family will gather to celebrate the life of beloved Vineyarder Alton Hardaway Jr., who passed on August 9. The PA Club will be open for all on Friday, Oct. 8 after 6 p.m. The Home Going services will be held at noon on Sunday, Oct. 10 at Waban Park.

Alton was extremely popular and always had a smile or kind words for all. He was a well-respected contractor and builder on the Island for decades. It seems like yesterday when he arrived from Boston shortly after his father passed and he sold the family Shell gas station in Jackson Square. His unexpected passing has left many empty hearts.

Paradise on earth is living the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting!