Cheryl Barbara (CB) Stark, 70, died peacefully at her home in West Tisbury on Jan. 2, with family and friends by her side. The cause of death was cancer, with which she had quietly struggled for 18 years. She died surrounded by love and in love, with no regrets for a life well lived.
She is best known as the founder and face of CB Stark Jewelers, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, but her influence within the Island community runs deep. With her big heart, humor and generosity, Cheryl was a straight talker who loved hearing other people’s stories. Active in the recovery community and sober for 36 years, she encouraged many others in their efforts to battle alcohol and drug abuse. The immense outpouring of love, support and condolences since her death attests to her heartfelt impact on the people around her.
Cheryl was born in 1946 in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was raised in nearby Scarsdale. She studied silversmithing and jewelry at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for four years. She first came to the Island at 19 to teach jewelry making, and fell head over heels for Martha’s Vineyard, the start of a lifelong love. For a few years, she divided her time: summers making and selling jewelry in Vineyard Haven, and off-season working at her booth on 47th Street in New York city’s diamond district, where she sold her work to renowned retailers Cartier and Georg Jensen, among others.
She moved to the Island full time in 1969, and set up shop in a garage on Water Street, steps from Vineyard Haven harbor. With a few years at Dockside in Oak Bluffs, a winter in Aspen, a move to her current Main street location in Vineyard Haven, and another shop in Edgartown, CB Stark Jewelers developed an avid and loyal clientele. Cheryl’s design sense and creativity, with the help of her talented staff and her longtime partner, Margery Meltzer, earned the business accolades near and far. The store became famous for its Martha’s Vineyard jewelry, of which there are more than 500 original designs, and won Martha’s Vineyard Magazine’s Best Jeweler award for 21 consecutive years.
An avid collector of sea glass, Cheryl enjoyed beach walks, bottle-digging, and hunting other relics. She played bridge and canasta, read the Island newspapers cover-to-cover each week, and loved watching the birds outside her living room window. Handy with more than jewelry tools, she and Margie helped build their cozy home in the West Tisbury woods, where they lived together for nearly 45 years. More recently, they spent the cold-weather months at their home in Longboat Key, Fla., where winters are more amenable to beachcombing than New England.
Cheryl supported several organizations focused on improving the Island’s quality of life: Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Support Group, Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and Vineyard House, among many others.
Her survivors include Margery L. Meltzer, her beloved wife and business partner of 45 years; her sister, Renee Stark of Palm Beach and Edgartown; her godson, Joshua Kochin, his wife Heather and their two sons, Beckett and Levi; and many cherished nieces and nephews and their children. She was predeceased by her parents, Edna and William Stark of San Antonio, Tex., and her brother, Leslie J. Stark of Vineyard Haven. Cheryl also leaves her devoted CB Stark Jewelers staff, including Sarah York, Jeff Regan, Elysha Roberts, Chris Bergeron, Sharon Duncan-Sylvia, and countless other current and former employees.
A public celebration of Cheryl Stark’s life is planned for the spring, with date and location to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Infusion Services, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.