Phyllis M. Gourley died on Dec. 25 at her home in Tucson, Ariz. She was 90.

Phyllis was born on August 27, 1925 in Norwood to Martin and Ella McDonald. She graduated from Canton High School, where she was captain of the field hockey team. After attending Kathleen Dell School of Business in Boston, she married Ronald Gourley in 1950 and had three children. They lived in Cambridge while Ronald taught at Harvard, and spent each summer on the Vineyard. After moving to Tucson, Ariz., in 1978, they continued to return to their Chilmark home each summer.

The Gourleys first came to the Vineyard in 1956 and built their summer house on Middle Road in Chilmark in 1957. Phyllis was an energetic force, encouraging the family into active pursuits such as softball, swimming lessons, tennis, and square dances at the Chilmark Community Center, racing her Sailfish on Menemsha Pond, digging for clams with bare hands in Lobsterville, picnics at Squibnocket Beach, and last minute drives to catch the sunset at Menemsha. Combined with her commitment to fun and adventure, Phyllis also dedicated herself to many years of service work with the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club and Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard.

Phyllis had a strong, positive influence on many lives, setting the example of the importance of giving back by being of service to those less fortunate. She will always be remembered for her great love of life, family, friends, family pets and animals, her boundless energy, and her great parties on the deck of the house. Her advice to everyone was to “always have fun.”

She is survived by her sister, Jean LeBarre of Palm Springs, Fla.; her son Robert Gourley of Tucson, Ariz.; daughter Karen Gourley Lehman of Salem; son Geoffrey Gourley of Flagstaff, Ariz.; eight grandchildren; ten great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. She is preceded in death by her husband, Ronald, and brother James McDonald.

Phyllis was interred in a private ceremony next to her husband Ronald at Abel’s Hill Cemetery on Jan. 9. A memorial mass will be held on Jan. 16 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Augustine’s Church on Franklin Street in Vineyard Haven. Donations may be made in her memory to Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or or to the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1829, Edgartown, MA 02568 or

Local arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs. An online guest book is available at