Faith Dennis Churchill Led Quiet but Active Life

Faith Dennis Churchill died peacefully at her home on South Water street in Edgartown on May 25, after a yearlong illness. She was 74.

Mrs. Churchill had lived on the Vineyard year-round since 1978 and before that had been a summer visitor all her life.

She was born on August 8, 1928, in New York city, the third child and only daughter of Rodney Gove and Marion Cheney Dennis. Her father was a senior member of Patterson, Teele and Dennis, the oldest accounting firm in New York city, founded by his father in 1896. Her mother played an active role as a volunteer assisting on the home front in Manhattan during World War II.

She grew up at 1105 Park avenue, was educated at the Chapin School and was graduated from the Westover School. She had her debut in New York city at the age of 18. She attended Vassar College for two years and then left to pursue her interest in ballet and other forms of dance. She worked for a time at the advertising firm of Young and Rubicam. In 1959 she married Donald Churchill, a pilot for Pan American Airlines. They were divorced in 1968. They had two children, Diana, who was born in 1961, and Robert, born in 1964.

Following her marriage she lived in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., where she raised her two children until she took up permanent residency on the Vineyard. For many years she worked at Crocus, a much-loved children's clothing and toy store in Brooklyn Heights.

She lived a quiet but intellectually vibrant life; she was a daily expert at solving The New York Times crossword puzzle and she was a voracious reader. When she moved to the Vineyard full time she and her closest friend, the late Anne B. MacRae, became almost inseparable. They spent countless hours reading, cooking and sunbathing - at the Chappaquiddick Beach Club in the summer, and in their backyards in the spring and fall.

Faith loved to tend her roses and her classic perennial garden, which she generously opened each year for the annual summer garden tour that benefited the Edgartown eighth grade. Her comfortable South Water street home was always wide open to family and friends, and it was a favorite place for dinner parties and milestone celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries and christenings. Over the years, Faith housed countless stray souls who were on their way from one appointment in life to another.

She was a member of the Edgartown Yacht Club, the Royal Chappaquiddick Yacht Club, the Chappaquiddick Beach Club and was a charter member of the Tuesday Crying Club, a funny and irreverent women's group founded by Anne MacRae.

Her volunteer work included work for the Willoughby House Settlement in Brooklyn Heights and the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society in Edgartown. She was a member of the Edgartown historic district commission, and she strongly favored historic preservation on the Vineyard.

She is survived by her daughter and son in law, Diana C. Bardwell and Douglas K. Bardwell, and their children, Ian Koepp Bardwell and Jared Cheney Bardwell, of West Tisbury; her son and daughter in law, Robert H. Churchill and Rebecca Pardoe, and their children, Colin Pieter Churchill and Natalie Margaret Churchill, of Simsbury, Conn.; two brothers and sisters in law, Charles C. and Barbara Dennis of City Island, N.Y., and Rodney G. and Christie Dennis of Cambridge, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by a brother, Pieter C.R. Dennis, in 1970 and by her friend Anne MacRae in 2000.

A memorial service will be held at the Federated Church in Edgartown on June 21 at 5 p.m. followed by a reception at the Chappaquiddick Beach Club.

Interment will be private.

Donations may be made in her memory to the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society, Box 1310, Edgartown, MA 02539.