Josette M. Ebbs (née Wurlod), a pediatric nurse and social worker who was active in educational and political associations, hosted many international visitors in her home, enjoyed making pottery and painting in pastels, and above all, supported and nurtured her family and her many close friends, died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage on Wednesday, July 16, on Martha’s Vineyard. She was 83.

Josette was born in Vichy, France on March 18, 1932, and raised in French-speaking Switzerland. She left Switzerland in 1948 to work as an au pair in England and Ireland, and returned to Switzerland in 1950 to study pediatric nursing, earning a diploma in 1952. In 1953 she came to the U.S. to work for a short time in a private home as an infant nurse. When she completed this work, she decided to extend her stay in the U.S., and accepted a position as a pediatric nurse at the hospital in Greenwich, Conn. In Greenwich, in 1955, she met and married John W. Ebbs. Josette and John then moved to Rochester, N.Y. where she gave birth to her first two children and became a U.S. citizen.

In 1959 Josette and John moved to Woodstock, N.Y., where their third child was born. During her early years in Woodstock, in addition to raising her three young children Josette also found time to express her creativity through the medium of ceramics. In the 1960s she was an active member of the Parent Teacher Association of Woodstock and the League of Women Voters. In 1966 she and John began supporting the Experiment in International Living by hosting visitors from India, Pakistan, Cameroon, and Korea. They also became active supporters of the Fresh Air Fund program and hosted a Fresh Air child from New York city for many summers. Josette co-chaired the regional branch during part of this time.

Over the years she kept in touch with all of these guests, many of whom became lifelong friends of the family.

Josette earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from SUNY at New Paltz in 1987, and from 1987 to 1990 she worked as a staff counselor for teen parents’ services at the YWCA of Ulster County, N.Y.

In 1996 Josette and John moved to Martha’s Vineyard, where Josette did volunteer work for a school reading program and for Island Hospice, participated in reading and discussion groups, attended live theater and classical music performances, film showings, and talks, and enjoyed gardening, hiking, and swimming. Josette applied her creative talent with oil pastels to depict her favorite Island scenes.

Josette recently wrote, “nurturing and caretaking was my natural role since childhood.” Deeply loyal to her family and friends, she was also committed to helping people whom she felt were unfairly treated by others or simply unlucky. Fairness was central to her moral and political convictions, which she forthrightly expressed and defended to others. She also loved and appreciated beauty, both in nature and in poetry, literature, visual art, and (especially classical) music. She created and tended beautiful gardens and indoor plants at her Woodstock and Martha’s Vineyard homes. Josette had a good sense of humor, lived with conscious intention, and loved life.

Josette was predeceased by John, her husband of 57 years, and her brother Edwin Wurlod of Switzerland. She is survived by her brother, Alain Wurlod of Yverdon, Switzerland; her three children and their spouses, Marc Ebbs and Jamie Yadoff of West Roxbury, Gary Ebbs and Martha Lahmon of Bloomington, Ind.; and Corinne Ebbs of Easthampton; and by her grandson, Conor Ebbs of Somerville.

A celebration of Josette’s life will be held on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs. A reception will follow.

Anecdotes and memories about Josette are welcome; send them to or The Ebbs, 97 Snake Hollow Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.

Donations can be made in Josette’s honor to the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), UNICEF, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, the United Universalist Church of Vineyard Haven or Featherstone Center for the Arts.