Autumn is a time of remembrance, especially November. All Saints Day, All Souls Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, all remind us, with gratitude, of the past and of the departed. For me, Thanksgiving particularly, a celebration of feasting, brings to mind a friend who died in autumn some eight years back. She was well known for her charisma and charm, and her gift for creating exquisite food, be it simple or elaborate.

I met Lucia Evans in 1973. I had decided to join my parents for a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, an Island I’d barely heard of, much less seen. They had rented a couple of rooms in the Dr. Shiverick House, a grand old mansion in Edgartown. The house had been rented for the summer to Lucia and her partner Bill Prokos, who owned a small Greek café called Helios, located down on the harbor. As the restaurant had no proper kitchen, Bill and Lucia had taken the house to cook in, and rented out rooms to help it pay for itself.

The moment I set foot on the Island I knew I wanted to stay, at least for the summer. That meant I would need to find work. I spent my first morning futilely scouring Main street for Help Wanted signs. Back at the house I found Lucia panicked; her baker had suddenly quit.

“My daughter bakes,” my mother told her, and, voila! I had a job. The pay was $1.25 an hour.

Helios was the essence of a small Greek café transported to coastal New England. Bill was Greek and liked to entertain guests by climbing onto tables, a bottle of Ouzo in hand, and dancing to the Greek music that always played through the tinny-sounding speakers. Lucia was especially charismatic, making everyone feel important.

The food was authentic and good.

I loved doing the baking and rose early each morning to start the pita and the baguettes. I’d make coffee first thing and wait for the rest of the house to wake up. Steve Ewing was usually first to appear; he lived that year in the attic. Steve, a fisherman and later a master dock builder and the poet laureate of Edgartown, had an early start, too.

Henriette, a friend of Lucia’s who spoke only French, would show up next. She sat and knitted and silently wept, morning after morning.

Soon other guests and the kitchen staff would wander in, all looking for coffee and hoping that fresh bread would soon be out of the oven. When the bread was done, I would pile it into a big rectangular basket, cover it with a baker’s apron, and walk it down Main street to the café. People would stop and turn their heads at the smell of the fresh warm bread as I passed.

Once at the restaurant, I would take a break for a morning cappuccino and a typical Greek breakfast of yogurt with honey and walnuts, and a loaf of freshly-baked pita. Then I would head back to the kitchen to cook.

There were pans of moussaka and spanakopita to make, as well as all of the salads — the carp roe spread taramasalata, tabbouleh, baba ganoush, tangy eggplant and the Greek desserts baklava, karagiozi, galaktoboureko and honey almond cake. These were altogether foreign to me, but soon I was cranking them out. At dinnertime in the café there was saganaki (a sort of Greek fondue), lamb shish kebab and chicken grilled or broiled on a portable brazier. The rice pilaf was cooked on a hot plate.

When my parents left at the end of the summer, I moved into the cupola at the top of the house. With windows on all four sides and a panoramic view of the town, it was just big enough for a mattress, my suitcase and a can of flowers. The closest bathroom was two floors down. Church bells, very near by, sounded the hour. For rent, Lucia charged me $15 a week.

In September, Helios closed for the season, and at that time year-round jobs on the Island were scarce. I left, dropped back in to college, then came back in ’75, this time to stay. That was the year Helios moved to a bigger location, a proper restaurant in Vineyard Haven, in the old Nobnocket Garage. Now we would stay open year-round. This was the same year the Black Dog Tavern closed for the winter to renovate, and their breakfast and lunch crowds migrated over to us. This required us to venture outside our Greek food comfort zone. We recruited the Black Dog’s breakfast chef, Don Patrick, who was so proficient that when he saw a regular customer pull in he would have their breakfast ready by the time they sat down.

We began serving American food — eggs and home fries, loaf breads for slicing, burgers, sandwiches, soups, cakes and pies, along with our usual fare. But the dinner menu remained decidedly Greek.

Our clientele, among others, were artists, musicians, boatbuilders, bigwigs, old money, new money, misfits and stars, along with a motley collection of waifs and strays. One customer

often showed up for breakfast wearing his robe and pajamas.

Lucia’s business sense was no match for her passion for quality. She often had me run to the store for a single ingredient, to make a special dish for a favored guest. Long before “locally sourced” and “farm to table” were restaurant by-words we were making daily runs to Arrowhead Farm for produce and flowers, and to Nip ‘n’ Tuck Farm for raw milk and cream in glass bottles.

Lucia mothered us all, customers and staff alike, with grace, charm and sheer will for the 15 years or so that Helios lasted. I made many lifelong friends there.

Bill died in 1975. Lucia then married George Moffett, whose generosity kept the restaurant afloat for some time, but George died a few years later. Between a broken heart and a shortage of funds, Lucia couldn’t keep Helios going. The fixtures were sold, the restaurant locked, the building would be demolished.

When Lucia died in October of 2015, Helios alumni and friends prepared a Greek feast in her honor, orchestrated by Sandy Fisher, her friend and the longtime caretaker of her property at Felix Neck. Sandy made honey almond cakes, Julia Mitchell made karagiozi, Christina Napolitan and Elise Thomas made the moussaka. I baked dozens of loaves of bread, which I brought in a big rectangular basket. I don’t remember who else made what, but it was a wonderful spread. Trip Barnes was the ever-charming emcee, and Steve Ewing recited a poem he wrote for Lucia.

Lucia would have loved it all; she should have been there with us.

Valerie Reese lives in Edgartown.