Laura Benner Moffet died peacefully in California early Christmas morning. Decidedly independent, she lived in her condominium until her last month. She was the devoted grandmother of Caroline Victoria and Maggie Mei Xiao Moffet of Edgartown.

Laura was born in Puerto Rico, where her father was the chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico, and grew up on the campus of the University of Illinois, where her father was the dean of the school of education. During the post-war years she lived with her family in Vienna where her father was involved with education reconstruction in Europe.

After graduating from the University of Illinois, she married fellow graduate David R. Moffet, moving to Monmouth, Ill., where Mr. Moffet joined the family business, the Monmouth Review Atlas newspaper.

Living in rural Illinois proved challenging, as Laura was one of a handful of Democrats in town. Unwilling to reconcile the racial and social injustices of small town conservatism, she turned back to education, earning her master’s degree in education at Western Illinois University.

Once her son was busted for skipping school the afternoon on the first nice day of spring — he was headed to the Mississippi River with friends. She relayed her own experience of being in high school and doing the same thing, skipping high school to take the train to Chicago. As the school and other parents were contemplating appropriate punishment, she instead applauded her son’s independence and wrote him an excuse that her son was suffering from spring fever. To the delight of the other truants, their parents followed suit.

Having reentered the teaching profession at Monmouth College and Carl Sandburg Community College, she made the bold move to southwest Florida after her marriage ended. She taught English at Edison Community College, pioneering a black literature curriculum. She built a house on Sanibel Island where she remained until retirement and the moral majority movement in Florida became too oppressive for her.

A western pilgrimage followed, where she took up residence in Mill Valley in the Bay area. Forever grateful that her sons had branched out to Martha’s Vineyard, Chicago and California, she became a frequent visitor to the Vineyard. The natural beauty and political sensitivities that abound on the Island drew her back time after time.

In addition to Caroline and Maggie Mei, she is survived by her sons John, Stephen and Howard; her grandchildren Carrie, Tristan and Shane of Wheaton, Ill., and Cooper of Oakland, Calif.;. and great-grandchildren Trinity and Paige of Wheaton, Ill. She was predeceased by a son, Peter, who died of pneumonia as an infant.