Harry Ryder, formerly of William street in Vineyard Haven, died at his home in Lancaster, N.H. on Nov. 21, 2016. He was 85.

With his death, the Island lost one of its outspoken admirers. He lived in the mountains of New Hampshire, but sang the praises of the Vineyard for more than 30 years.

He loved to go to the dump (not the transfer station) and hold court, or to the library where he would take slips from all the exotic plants. (“It’s a win-win, they needed pruning anyway,” he would say.)

He brought his family to the Island in the 1960s and told his son and daughter over and over that this was a special place, that they should always remember it, that it wasn’t ordinary, that they were blessed to be here.

He wouldn’t talk about the typical Vineyard attributes that all the world knows about; instead he would talk about the midnight walks he took, insomnia providing him an unexpected gift, from his home on William street, down to the boat wharf, down to Beach Road, meeting those who also couldn’t sleep, returning with many more adventurous tales than his dreams would ever give.

He would talk of cold, foggy, Sunday afternoons at Lucy Vincent, gathering driftwood with his wife and kids, using it to create makeshift dwellings complete with chimneys and Sterno campfires, heating hot chocolate, and hoping there were other brave souls venturing out to the beach on those days, who would see the cozy shelters and wonder who the lucky ones were inside.

He talked of the teen gatherings at the Ryder house, laughter abounding, of waking his children up in the middle of the night to walk William street in the deafening silence of a good Christmas snow.

Starting in the Vineyard school system, then doing whatever possible to keep his family on the Island, he paid the price of being a visionary in all things. He was not always understood or easy to work with — but oh, how he loved the Vineyard.

He especially loved the Island people, the everyday, honest, straightforward open people, and the creative, outside-the-box people.

His wife Faith (“O, ye of little”), along with Scott, Debra, Alyson, Ian, Lindsey, Peter and Beth, Mark, Heath, Eli, Megan, Harper and Addison Skye are all resting in the knowledge that they will see him again in Glory.