William T. Elbow died peacefully on Jan. 21. He was 86.

Bill was a man of quiet conviction. He was free-spirited, forging his own path and living life on his own terms.

The son of C. William Elbow Jr. and Helen Platt Elbow, he spent many boyhood summers on the Vineyard, first in Menemsha and later in the Orchard House on South Road in Chilmark. He went on to serve in the Army, graduating from Tri-State College in Indiana with a degree in engineering, then worked for 18 years in the aerospace industry.

In the late 1970s, Bill decided to return to the Island permanently. He worked in the West Tisbury town hall for the assessors, board of health and conservation commission. He also worked for the Chilmark board of health and the Dukes County water testing laboratory. He was later elected to the Edgartown board of health.

He and his wife Ann C. Allen restored the Cape Higgon Schoolhouse in Chilmark, and later their property in Edgartown. In harmony with Ann’s work as an Island historian, Bill had a passion for Vineyard history, and his projects ranged from scientific tide tables to historical maps and other publications.

In his later years, he and Ann spent many happy hours playing croquet at the Edgartown Croquet Club. Bill loved croquet and became a formidable competitor, winning several prizes at tournaments despite his visual impairment.

He was deeply affected by the loss of his son in 2007 and the loss of Ann in 2010.

He was a man of few words, but those words were of gold. He was a warm and gracious host to visiting relatives, and could always be counted on for a one-of-a-kind tour of the Vineyard, peppered with stories of his life and the Island’s history.

He is survived by his granddaughter, Suzy Elbow of Portland, Ore., his brother Peter Elbow of Seattle, Wash., his sister Joan Cordier of France, and his stepdaughters Katherine Allen of Whitethorn, Calif., and Robin Beckwith of Newport, Ore.

Interment will be private in the Abel’s Hill cemetery, alongside his beloved wife and son.