Nathaniel J. (Ned) Orleans of Vineyard Haven, died March 10, 2019 at the Henrietta Brewer House. He was 95.

He was born in 1924 in New York city, the youngest of three children. His father taught math at George Washington High School, and his mother was a homemaker. His connection to Martha’s Vineyard began in early childhood. The family first visited the Island in 1925, and subsequently returned every summer. A favorite family story illustrates Ned’s immediate attachment to the Island: he was about six years old, and upon hearing that it was time to go the ferry to leave Martha’s Vineyard at the end of the summer, he promptly climbed a tree and refused to come down. The family missed the departing ferry.

Ned graduated from George Washington High School in 1941 and entered Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. His college career was interrupted by service in the Navy, where he was a radarman on the destroyer U.S.S. Benner in the Pacific, and was part of the occupation force after the war. After the service, in 1946 he returned to Antioch, majoring in math. There he met Ellen Shufro, and they married upon graduation from Antioch in 1948. They spent two years in Dayton, Ohio, where Ned worked for Rike’s Department Store, and then moved to Boston, where Ned earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1952.

They made their home in Alexandria, Va., where Ned became an executive with Woodward & Lothrop, a local department store chain. They had two children. They were both active in the children’s school, and in the mid-1960s, Ned was appointed to the Fairfax County school board. The family came to the Vineyard nearly every summer, usually staying in the Lagoon Heights area near Ned’s parents, where they eventually bought a house.

Ned left Woodward & Lothrop in 1970, and went to work for Federated Department Stores in Cincinnati. In 1973, he made a major career change, leaving the world of retailing to bring his business skills to the Fairfax County public schools as an assistant superintendent for planning, and the family returned from Ohio to Alexandria, Va..

Ned and Ellen retired and fulfilled a lifelong dream when they moved full time to Martha’s Vineyard in 1989. Harold Chapdelaine built their house off Winyah Lane, on a street that eventually became known as Chapde Lane. They were active in the Island community. In 2004, Ned was appointed (and later elected) to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, where he advocated for thoughtful, intelligent development that preserved the Island’s special character. He was frequently sought out for his perspective on Island affairs, and was a mentor to younger friends interested in Island politics. He also became a much-beloved crossing guard for students attending the Tisbury School. After a lifetime rooting for New York and Washington, D.C. sports teams, he transferred his allegiance and became a devoted fan of the Red Sox, Celtics, and Patriots.

After Ellen died in September 2015, Ned lived for a time at Havenside in Vineyard Haven, and then moved to Brewer House. While he struggled with various health issues, he remained both physically and mentally active, walking to town as frequently as he could, participating in discussion groups, and joining friends for movies and dinners. He could always be counted on to express strong opinions about Island affairs.

He is survived by his daughter Jennifer, son Jonathan; four grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. He had a close relationship with his nephew Jeffrey Orleans. Jon and Jen express particular appreciation to the owners and staff at the Henrietta Brewer House.

A memorial service will be held at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center on Sunday, March 22, at noon.

Donations can be made to the American Civil Liberties Union or to an Island charity of choice.