Lee Fierro, whose acting and directing career spanned 70 years, died on April 5 in Ohio of complications from Covid-19. She was 91.

Her decision to pursue an acting career took root at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Conn. A shy student, the opportunity to take on a new persona and stand before an audience infected her with the call of the stage.

She pursued her passion, studying with Andre Jilinsky at the Jalonge Theater School in New York city, where she had been born and raised, and later met and married her first husband, Marvin Stephens.

Lee and Marvin moved to the Philadelphia suburbs to study with Jasper Dieter. At the small but renowned Hedgerow Repertory Theater, in Rose Valley, Pa., she dug into the dramatic roles of Arthur Miller, Bernard Shaw, Eugene O’Neill and Henrik Ibsen.

As Lee’s family grew to include four children, she shared her talents at the nearby school in Rose Valley, teaching dance, drama, and inspiring many students with her creativity.

Lee and her second husband, Bernard Fierro, with by then five children, moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 1969 where together they built a home. Lee coached Islanders in natural childbirth and was a vanguard in convincing the Vineyard hospital to accept midwives and coaches in the birth process.

In the summer of 1974 she auditioned for a role in Jaws, with some reluctance. She was offered role of Mrs. Kintner but turned it down because of the character’s heavy use of curse words. The screenwriters rewrote the script for her, which she then accepted. That iconic performance, including the famous slap of Chief Brody, played by Roy Scheider, gained her loyal fans from all over the world who continue to this day.

Lee was known and loved on the Vineyard for her 40 years with the Island Theater Workshop. As associate artistic director and later artistic director, she worked with more than 1,000 students in children’s theatre during summers and the Apprentice Players in the off-season. Year after year she penned scripts and composed lyrics for the students, always careful that each child had a speaking role. Her plays delved into serious historical issues that encouraged the students to understand other lives and times.

After her death, many of her past students recalled her profound influence on them.

She acted in more than 100 plays ranging from Much Ado About Nothing and The Madwoman of Chaillot, to Medea and Talking With.

And while Lee loved acting, she found her greatest calling and satisfaction as a director. She enjoyed imparting her experience and training to other actors, challenging and supporting them, including those new to theatre, to reach within and explore new areas of their emotional and psychological selves. Her unusual approach with young and old alike had a lasting impact on those she directed.

Aside from the theatre, her other passion was her favorite hobby: singing. She composed many songs during her career and for decades was a devoted member of the Grace Church Choir and the Martha’s Vineyard Chorus.

In June 2017, she moved to an assisted living community in Cleveland, Ohio. Although she hated leaving her beloved Island, she spent her final three years enjoying family.

She will be remembered always by her family.

She is survived by her five children: Melanie, Anthony, Doug, Dinah and Ethan; seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.