Charles B. Stone Was Vital Up-Island Figure

Charles Burton Stone of North Tisbury and Woodbridge, Conn., died in his sleep on Monday, Jan. 24 while vacationing in Florida. Mr. Stone was a prominent figure in many aspects of up-Island Vineyard life. He was an avid fisherman, loved the outdoors and as recently as last summer made a pleasant and fun appearance as a mime dressed in white at the Tisbury Street Fair. He was 78 years old.

He was born in 1927 in New Haven, Conn., the son of Michael (Mickey) and Bertha Stone. His grandfather Abraham began the family tradition of taking down homes and recycling the wood. Abraham’s sons went on to open a retail lumberyard, Columbia Lumber. Charles learned his trade from boyhood. Work, though taken seriously, was never his passion but a necessity.

As a boy in Milford, he would climb on the rocks at low tide and keep his eyes open for signs of fish. He would follow schools of fish for the rest of his life.

At the age of 17, in 1944, he left Hopkins Day Prospect, a private high school in New Haven, lied about his age and entered the merchant marine to participate in World War II. For the next year and a half he made 28 Atlantic crossings. At 19 he returned to Hopkins to finish his senior year and then went on to Bates College, where he was a three-season varsity athlete: soccer, skiing and baseball.

He was active in theatre, not in the usual way. He was the stage manager for many of the college plays.

After Bates he went to work for Columbia Lumber as a salesman. When that business failed, he and a friend went on to become timber merchants. He did it for 38 years and completed his last sale six months ago.

In 1949, Mr. Stone discovered Cuttyhunk, attracted to fishing for striped bass and bluefish. And in a short time he found the Vineyard. He built a summer home in 1951 in Aquinnah.

He worked for Captain Walter Manning as first mate on the sword fishing boat Bozo out of Menemsha.

That summer in 1960 he met and shared the Vineyard with his future wife, Eve. They were married in December.

In November of 1965, their summerhouse on Lobsterville Road burned to the ground. In 1967 they made their summer home in North Tisbury on State Road and in 1971 his wife ran an informal friendly antique business called Antique Oddities. He was the heavy lifter.

His son Michael remembers: "He was thoughtful in ways that set him apart. If a child was born in our family or in the family of a friend, you could count on Charlie saving you the New York Times from that day. He made a point of never forgetting a birthday or anniversary. He was never late for an appointment. He always found time to be at his children’s sports events.

"My father traveled the world from South America to Israel. He loved the sun and warm weather and everything about it," the son recalls. "His truest love was the water and fishing."

Charlie had also had the nicknames of Budgie and Budge. For 55 years he fished the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. He hunted for deer and loved the taste of fresh fish and venison. His sense of humor was as big as his heart. He kept himself current on the most recent jokes that were circulating through town and he had a great skill in delivery.

Not too many years ago he sold magazines and hats at the Tisbury Street Fair and in recent times dressed completely in white, was a mime and waved at everyone, especially children.

He is survived by his wife Eve Mautner Stone; father and father in law of Susan Stone Levine and Roger Levine of Woodbridge; Michael and Kelly Stone of Guilford. He is the brother of the late Richard Stone. He is the grandfather of Andrew Downs; Benjamin, Jennifer and Jacqueline Levine and Miles Stone.

A funeral service was held at Cong. Beth El Keser Israel in New Haven last Sunday. A memorial service will be held on the Vineyard this summer.

-- Mark Alan Lovewell