Ron Rappaport’s official office was in Edgartown at the firm he founded in 1986 with his wife Jane Kaplan and fellow lawyer Jim Reynolds.

But really, his office was everywhere on the Island, in the town halls and classrooms, courtrooms and restaurants, at summer benefits and off-season small gatherings, in the Chappy Ferry line or while riding his bicycle. Mr. Rappaport traversed the Island on two wheels or four, always working, always talking, always listening, always smiling and always arguing one case over and over: how to preserve the Island’s values and way of life for everyone.

“He was ubiquitous, as everyone is saying,” recalled Steve Ewing a few days after Mr. Rappaport’s death. “I could be at a New Year’s Eve party in Aquinnah, and there he would be. He was outgoing and extroverted, but quiet too. He was forward looking on the good side of things, and always looking out for the best interests of the Island.”

Mr. Rappaport founded the firm with his wife Jane Kaplan and fellow lawyer Jim Reynolds. — Jaxon White

As news spread Saturday, Islanders from all aspects of life — Vineyard born, seasonal, wealthy or not, famous or low key — all seemed to shake their heads in unison while asking the same question: what would the Island be without Ron Rappaport.

“It is hard to imagine a more influential person on the Island,” said his law partner Jim Reynolds. “But not everyone knew that. He was behind the scenes on everything. We won’t see the scope of a Ron Rappaport ever again.”

Former Steamship Authority Governor, lead organizer of MV Youth, chairman of the board of the Martha’s Vineyard Bank and its charitable foundation, architect behind the transformation of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital in the 1990s, legal counsel to five of the six Island towns, a key figure in the creation of TestMV during the Covid epidemic,  a board member of the Vineyard Gazette Media Group, the list of his known — and unknown — contributions is seemingly never ending as he continually mentored and counseled organizations and individuals in ways large and small.

“He was a true community guardian,” said James Anthony, CEO of Martha’s Vineyard Bank. “He was the glue that bound so much of the Island together and it’s going to be a different Island without him.”

Winning the Spirit of the Vineyard award in 2000. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Berta Welch, Wampanoag tribal member who served over 30 years on the Aquinnah planning board, said she often sought Mr. Rappaport out for advice.

“Ron was such a voice of reason and an ally to our town and the tribe,” she said. “Born and raised here, he understood so much about Islanders.”

In thinking about an Island without Ron Rappaport’s wisdom just a phone call away, Ms. Welch said that for many, the mantra will now be: “What would Ron say?”

Jim Swartz, who founded MV Youth with Dan Stanton, said that when he and Mr. Stanton came up with the idea of creating a charity dedicated to serving Vineyard youth it was obvious who they would approach.

“The first person we thought to organize it and get the right people in place was Ron,” Mr. Swartz said. “And he immediately volunteered and stepped into the role. We worked closely over the years and he has been so dedicated and committed to the youth of the Vineyard.”

Arguing the Herring Creek Farm trial in 1995. — Alison Shaw

Mr. Swartz continued: “He matched the right donors and givers to the right causes but kept it quiet and discreet. He was a unique and necessary person to the fabric of the Island.”

Nearly everyone it seemed had just seen him in the last week, had a meal together, waved at him bicycling down the road or sought his counsel. There was no degree of separation between Mr. Rappaport and nearly every facet of Island life.

“I was in the Chappy ferry line recently,” said James Hagerty, town administrator for Edgartown. “And Ron said to me, ‘Do you know your grandfather delivered me as a baby.’”

Mr. Hagerty continued: “Ron was town counsel for 40-plus years and one of the most respected municipal attorneys in the commonwealth. It is such a huge loss for the Island. His shoes will not be filled.”

His courtroom expertise was also noted off-Island.

Margaret Marshall, former chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and a seasonal Vineyard resident, said she knew Mr. Rappaport “as a friend, a great lawyer and a wise counselor to me and so many other people.”

Whenever she heard he would be arguing a case in Boston she would let her younger colleagues know.

Outside his firm, Reynolds, Rappaport, Kaplan and Hackney. — Jeanna Shepard

“I would invite the young clerks to listen to him, saying you should come watch if you want to know how it’s done,” she said.

On Saturday, his co-workers gathered at Reynolds, Rappaport, Kaplan and Hackney, on the corner of Cooke street and Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.

“The carpets were being cleaned so we all sat on the floor, sharing Ron stories,” Fain Hackney said. “It was a testament to how much he meant to everyone at the firm.”

Afterwards, the group went outside and toasted the life and work of Mr. Rappaport with a bottle of Champagne.