Marion Wright Edelman famously said, “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.” Ms. Edelman must have known Marie Allen because this certainly was the guiding light of her life dedicated to serving her community, first in Boston and then on Martha’s Vineyard.

I met Ms. Allen decades ago when the family lived on Cobden street in the Egleston Square section of Boston. I was a young, inexperienced board member of the Boston branch of the NAACP. Ed Redd was an aspiring lawyer and he served as the executive director of the branch. Both of us were Roxbury residents at the time, living a short distance from the Allen family house. This was the heyday of the Boston branch, when it was led by famed attorney Tom Atkins and business icon Ken Guscott.

Having operated her secretarial school, Ms. Allen was the perfect person to be the secretary of this bustling Boston branch. She was extremely efficient, forward thinking , understood protocols and worked tirelessly with this branch of fighters for justice and equality.

Marie brought her sense of service to the Vineyard. The Allen family summered initially on School street in Oak Bluffs and Kathy and I were introduced to many of her friends at her cottage.

Not unexpectedly, she took up with the Martha’s Vineyard branch of the NAACP and initially served as secretary, then eventually becoming president of the branch. She worked closely with Bob Hayden and together they brought the national president to the Vineyard. Her longtime service was recognized in 2017 when she was presented with the Living Legends Award by the New England Area Conference of the NAACP.

In addition, she served on the Oak Bluffs board of assessors, the board of Island Elderly Housing and as conservator of the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank.

I vividly recall her relocation from School street to Monroe street, off New York avenue. Initially she settled in to her new cottage and asked Eddie and me to stop by one evening. As was the case in Boston, our family cottage was just a few minutes away. She wanted our advice about purchasing the lot next door. We strongly believe in land ownership and encouraged her to go forward with the acquisition. She thanked us years later when her son David built his new cottage on that very lot.

When I became secretary of transportation under Governor Bill Weld, I asked Marie to come back to the MBTA to become my assistant secretary of personnel and affirmative action. She ensured that we had fair hiring and promotion practices inside of this 6,000-person public organization.

Marie’s range of interests and entrepreneurial spirit was on display as she enjoyed knitting, traveling the world and selling her contemporary and ethnic handmade jewelry at Cottagers Corner.

As I subsequently understood the history of the civil rights movement, especially the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., I thought of Marie. She reminded me of Ms. Jo Ann Robinson who was active in the Women’s Political Council and was an early supporter of the bus boycott after Rosa Parks was arrested. She and her associates copied tens of thousands of leaflets and distributed them across Montgomery, calling for a “one day“ bus boycott. Without her efforts to educate and communicate the logistics of the planned boycott, it most certainly would have failed.

Marie Allen is our Jo Ann Robinson, playing many critical roles to advance human progress in Boston and on the Vineyard. She was my friend, my mentor, my colleague and an incomparable role model of service to her community.

We will miss her for a long time.

David and Stacey: you were blessed to have her as your mother.

Paradise on earth is living the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting. Randall Edward Taylor, rest in peace.