Fern Butterweck Loved Chasing Bass Along Shore

Fern Gloria Dow Butterweck died peacefully Sunday, August 21, at her home in Edgartown after a long illness. She was 84.

Born in Elizabeth, N.J., she worked at Prudential Insurance until the outbreak of World War II and then moved to Merck, working extra shifts in a steel stamping factory to support the war effort.

At Merck she met and married Paul Butterweck, and they lived in Scotch Plains, N.J., for 45 years. They traveled the world together, but nothing gave her as much joy as the coast of Spain, the islands off Italy and the rough shore of Ireland that reminded her so much of the Vineyard, where she and Paul summered together from the early 1960s on. After Paul's death in 1992 she moved to Edgartown year-round.

Fern was an avid swimmer. Her father was a tugboat engineer who worked the piers around Manhattan. She had the happy experience of occasionally joining him at work, which sometimes meant circling the entire island, and at the end of the day's work swimming off the boat in the shadow of the Statute of Liberty. As a teenager her minister's wife persuaded her to take singing lessons. She studied voice for several years and participated in a number of local operetta productions. With her husband and her daughter, Debbie, she was an enthusiastic figure skater at the Raritan Valley and Essex Skating clubs in New Jersey and became a figure skating judge for entry level competitions, a tough tennis player and a member of the Farm Neck Golf Club. She traded stocks with good humor and a sense of adventure, and she did the New York Times crossword puzzle every day with a pencil.

But her true love was fishing. She chased bass along the shores of Chappaquiddick and is best remembered for an area referred to as Fern's Crossing, near Cape Pogue, that was so completely hers.

Both in Scotch Plans and on the Vineyard, Fern made and kept many lifelong friends who treasured her jokes, her wisdom and her generosity. And she kept taped to her refrigerator door a few lines from a magazine that gave her guidance during the last years of her life: "I always try to bring light and love to every experience. Through what I think and do, I make a positive difference in this world." She did. Fern was a woman of unfailing good cheer and a rare spirit who will be deeply missed by all who knew her.

She is survived by her daughter, Deborah Butterweck Carter, and her son in law, Jim Carter; by her grandchildren, Kimberly of Edgartown and Greg of Burlington, Vt.; by her sister, Audrey Dow of Scotch Plains, and by her aunt, Esther Lewis, of Honesdale, Pa.

Her funeral service was held August 25 in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs, officiated by the Rev. Dr. Jerry Fritz. Interment was in the new Westside Cemetery in Edgartown.

Donations may be made in her memory to the charity of one's choice.