Norris W. Darrell, the founder of a scholarship fund that helped many young Islanders who had overcome challenges in their lives attend college, died Dec. 12 after a brief illness. He was 87 and had been a longtime resident of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., and Edgartown.

Lawyer, sailor, loving husband, father and grandfather, he was born on May 10, 1929 in Berlin, Germany to Doris Clare Williams and Norris Darrell. He grew up in New York city, attending St. Bernard’s School, Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard College, where he graduated in 1951, and Harvard Law School, where he graduated cum laude in 1954.

He spent two years in the U.S. Army and then joined Sullivan & Cromwell, where he became partner in 1965. He led the firm’s Paris office for three years and went on to build a practice in securities, corporate and financing law for corporate clients around the world.

Beginning in 1958, “to maintain balance,” as he said, he took ski trips to Austria, where he fell in love with Henriette Maria Haid, while dancing with her in St. Anton after skiing. They married in 1962.

Along with his family, Norris loved small sailboats, tennis and skiing. He raced an Atlantic (A 56, Tara) out of Cold Spring Harbor and a Herreschoff 12 (Doris Clare) out of Edgartown, amassing not only winning records but a warm reputation as a good sport and a coach to newcomers in the fleets. Introduced by his mother to Edgartown shortly before she died at a young age, Norris made it the family’s summer home, returning to teach sailing at the Edgartown Yacht Club in the late 1940s and then to raise his son and grandchildren with summers on the Island. He sailed one of the first windsurfers when the sport was first introduced, and his son and daughter in law are avid windsurfers to this day.

Retiring at age 65 to dedicate time to family and to civic organizations, he served on the boards of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for cancer and biology research, the Heckscher Museum of Art, and the Lumina Foundation for expanding access to post-secondary education. He established the Lumina/Darrell scholarship fund on Martha’s Vineyard to help young people achieve higher education. Many of the students helped by this fund are the first in their families to attend college.

“I just felt over the years that it’s really important to encourage young people from underserved groups to go for post-high school education that’s so necessary today for personal growth and success,” he told the Gazette in a 2005 interview.

“Norris Darrell was an extremely generous and farsighted man,” said Emily Bramhall, executive director of the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard which administers the fund. She said since 2003 the fund has awarded $883,500 to more than 200 students on the Vineyard.

“Mr. Darrell made a difference in the quality of life for so many students . . . . He was a steward for the mission of the endowment,” said Anne Williamson, vice chairman of the endowment board.

In an email to the Gazette this week, Mr. Darrell’s son Andy said the Vineyard was a place close to his father’s heart. “Throughout his life, the Vineyard and its waters were a place to connect with core values of family, friends, community and sport, from sailing to tennis and just riding his bike along the shore. The Vineyard gave a lot to him,” he wrote.

He was part of many communities of friends, as a member of the board of the River Club of New York and a member of the Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club, the Edgartown Yacht Club, the Piping Rock Club, the Chappaquiddick Beach Club, the Edgartown Reading Room and the Harvard Club.

In addition to his wife of 54 years, Henriette, he is survived by his son Andrew, daughter in law Dana and two grandchildren, Una, 16, and Kai, 11, and his brother Richard — for all he provided an endless supply of love, humor and practical wisdom.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Darrell Research Fund at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Darrell/Lumina Fund at the Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard or any charity of your choice.