Catherine Frances Ryan Mathiesen, who with her husband George founded Chicama Vineyards in West Tisbury, the first bonded winery in the commonwealth and the first successful winery on the Atlantic coast, died unexpectedly on Sunday, Oct 21.

She was born in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1923, the third daughter of John Bernard Ryan and Harriet May Calkins. She excelled in school, and after graduating, worked briefly for the Buffalo Arms Corporation as a milling machine operator. She enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1944, and for the duration of World War II Catherine was a specialist third class at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C., where she met George Harry Mathiesen. They were married in 1945.

After the war, Catherine and George moved around the country as their family grew, living in California, Ohio, New York and Martha’s Vineyard. Catherine was fascinated by the world at large, and loved learning — especially about history, politics and cooking. She did volunteer work, gardened, learned to ski, sail, weave, sew, hook rugs and earned her pilot’s license, all while raising six children.

Catherine and George shared a passion for wine and realized their dream of starting a winery in 1971, when they and their children moved to Martha’s Vineyard to start Chicama Vineyards. In addition to her long days working at the winery and raising her family, Catherine volunteered at the Island Food Pantry and the Vineyard Haven Library.

She was predeceased by her parents, sisters Gertrude and Mary, granddaughter Chance, son Michael and her beloved husband George. She is survived by her children Kristen, Lynn, Paul, Tim and Sean, her son in law Stewart, daughters in law Alex, Dana, Robin and Delphine, and grandchildren Rosemary, Wyndham, Hugo and Wyatt. She will be greatly missed by both family and her circle of friends.

Services will be private. Donations in her name may be made to the Island Food Pantry.