Marie Burnett of Lagoon Road in Oak Bluffs died peacefully on July 23 at her son’s home in Mill Valley, Calif. She first came to the Vineyard from her long-time home in Marin County, California in the winter of 1983 for a short visit but, as happens here, never left. She immediately fell in love with the Island, which she likened to a (frozen) village of her native England. She stayed the winter as caregiver for a lovely elderly Islander, Mary Goethals, and come spring accepted a position as innkeeper at the Lambert’s Cove Country Inn in West Tisbury, where she lived and worked for the better part of a decade. As innkeeper, Marie presided over the diverse staff, soothed mothers-of-the bride with her humor and beautiful voice, facilitated elopements, and kept the sherry flowing (especially when the water wasn’t, because the power was out and the well pump wouldn’t work).

Every year Marie threw a Christmas party at the inn that featured original songs performed by the talented staff, such as this one penned by Susanna Sturgis and Maggie MacCarty, distinguished chambermaids at the inn during the Marie era:

“Owed to Marie”

Tune: When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Lyrics: Maggie MacCarty & Susanna Sturgis

Marie, our washer’s broken
And the dryer’s on the fritz,
And the guests are having fits
The well went dry this morning
And the wedding starts at three —
Two hundred guests expected —
Marie, where will they pee?

The chef’s locked in the walk-in
And the power lines are down,
There’s ants in East and Greenhouse
The cat puked on the rag doll
And the lawn is turning brown.
These things might seem disastrous
And drive us to suicide,
But Marie said fall is coming
And Marie has never lied!

While at the inn, Marie met many wonderful Islanders, including Ann Bromberg, Bart Bussink (and, later, Ann Jenkins), Sue Craver and her daughter Susan, Lee Fierro, George and Florrie Mills, and Eleanor Pearlson, who later hired Marie in the early 1990s as a real estate agent at Tea Lane Properties in Chilmark. It was during this period that Marie designed and built her own sweet home in Oak Bluffs. The spacious green yard became home to her beloved and mischievous dog, Bailey. Vineyard friends — including neighbors Laurisa and Tim Rich (now of Chilmark) and Patsy Costa — remember her impromptu and apparently effortless dinner parties at which she made everyone feel welcome with her brilliant smiles and kind words.

After she retired from real estate, Marie absolutely loved her new-found leisure. She spent time with her close Island friends, took Bailey for walks, and enjoyed visits from loved ones, including her stepdaughter Lisa, an annual summer pilgrimage by her niece Amanda with her husband David and son Colin, and, finally (after waiting patiently for decades), visits from Jeremy’s beautiful new family of Noelle Colome, Miles (born 2005), and Dexter (born 2007).

In approximately 2008 Marie began to experience memory loss and eventually needed part-time care at home, lovingly provided by Islanders Maggie Greely and Pat Ciciora. When Marie needed full-time care in 2012, Jeremy, Noelle and their two young sons moved to the Island to be with her. Noelle was hired by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum as their director of fundraising. Miles and Dexter both made fast friends and loved their schools and Island life, sledding in the winter snow and summering on the balmy beaches — all so different from their native San Francisco.

After a year, Marie returned to Marin with Jeremy and his family on what she happily accepted as an extended visit, but which would be the last chapter of her life. A chapter that allowed Bay Area friends who had missed her greatly during the Vineyard years to enjoy her company, and, happily, a chapter lived entirely outside of medical facilities, thanks to the thoughtful care of family, friends, and, at the very end, after she was diagnosed with cancer, heaven-sent homecare providers Barbara Federoff, BJ, Pomi Palmer, Alexandra Sanint, and Michele Wooliever. By Marie’s own admission, she always enjoyed lolling in bed and being waited on — every innkeeper’s fantasy, to be sure —which made her an easy patient.

Marie leaves three siblings, James, Jill, and Jennifer; her stepdaughter, Lisa; her son, Jeremy; and her grandsons Miles and Dexter. Her indomitable spirit and sweet, dry sense of humor were with her until the end. She is sorely missed.

Please bring your best Marie story and your great good cheer to an informal memorial service on Thursday, Sept. 17., at Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.