Elizabeth (Lal) Kirwan Dowley died on July 3 at her home on East Chop. She was 94.

Lal was born in Dublin, Ireland, on May 5, 1925, to Daniel and Elizabeth Kirwan.

She and her sister Helen were hired by BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) in March of 1944 to be their first ground hostesses in Foynes, Ireland, a village in the west of Ireland that played an important role in World War II as a port of entry for planes flying from New York to Europe. Lal is featured in an exhibition in the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum celebrating Pan American Airways’ Clipper Ships.

Lal greeted passengers arriving from New York on massive Boeing 314 seaplanes that moored in the tiny harbor on the Shannon River, carrying entertainers for Allied troops, political leaders, military personnel, war journalists and business leaders, as well as people escaping from Europe. One of the passengers who arrived in the fall of 1944 to help manage ground operations for Pan American was Robert (Bob) Curtis Dowley. They married in 1947 and were devoted to one another for 49 years until his death in 1996.

She first came to the Vineyard with Bob in 1949, staying with his parents, Marion and Leroy Dowley, in their house on East Chop.

At the time, Bob and Lal were living outside London. They moved to the States in 1950 when Bob joined his father and brother George in the family business, operating retail men’s clothing stores: Ware Pratt in Worcester, and Wells & Coverly in Troy and Syracuse, NY. They raised their five children in Troy, where Lal was an active volunteer in the Red Cross, the Junior League and the Albany Hospice.

They spent 40 summers coming to East Chop and built their first house there in 1956.

In 1990, Lal and Bob moved permanently to East Chop, where they designed and built a year-round home overlooking the water.

Lal was a familiar figure on the tennis courts and could be seen riding her bicycle to and from the East Chop Tennis Club with her racket slung over her shoulder, until 2013 when health issues intervened.

She was also fond of late afternoon dips at the East Chop Beach Club, frequently stopping to chat with friends on the porch. She may have been the only octogenarian riding her bicycle around East Chop, a practice she kept up even as she turned 90, until a fall convinced her that it was time to put away the wheels.

She was much loved by a wide circle of friends for whom her cheerful energy and kindness was an inspiration. She volunteered for Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard for over 25 years, was a good bridge player and a favorite partner in year-round games. She and Bob were avid backgammon players during off-season games at the Edgartown Yacht Club.

She had been a devoted member of the Catholic church on the Vineyard, contributing to its long-range planning and ecumenical efforts with other Island denominations.

She used to say that unless she went for a walk every day she felt claustrophobic. Her walks took her on almost all the protected properties of the land bank and the Vineyard Conservation Society, which honored her a few years ago for her longstanding membership. She also loved walking on the East Chop bluff during the off-season, alone or with friends. She stopped her walks in May 2019 due to illness that kept her housebound.

She is survived by four of her five children: Jennifer of Millerton, N.Y.; Gillian of Chicago; Craig of Togher, Ireland, and Christopher of Marblehead. Her son Brian predeceased her last summer. She is also survived by eight grandchildren, who knew her as Dooks, as well as numerous nieces and nephews in both Ireland and the U.S.

A funeral mass will be held on July 13 at 10:30 a.m. at St Augustine Church in Vineyard Haven, followed by a lunch and reception at the East Chop Tennis Club at noon. She will be interred in a private ceremony next to her husband in the Dowley family plot in the Oak Grove Cemetery.

Donations can may be made to the Island Food Pantry, P.O. Box 1874, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, or VNA Hospice, 67 Ter Heun Drive, Falmouth, MA 02540.