Mary Jane Carpenter, of Edgartown, died suddenly on August 19, 2020, from kidney failure caused by the tick-borne disease babesiosis.

Mary Jane was born in Mercer, Pa. on August 27, 1943, the daughter of Elmer Scheidhauer and Mabel (Masters). Her father was a storekeeper while her mother, a chemist, worked in a munitions factory during World War II. She graduated from Mercer High School in 1961 and with honors from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa., in 1965 with a bachelor of arts degree in English. She was appointed a graduate assistant in the English department at the University of Pittsburgh that year, where she received a master of arts degree in 1966.

That year she met her husband, Glenn, a fellow graduate student in the department who had recently completed his active duty service in the Marine Corps. They married on her 23rd birthday, and the two both spent a year teaching English at the Pennsylvania State University. In 1967 they moved to Mount Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where she taught high school before her sons Bob and Bill were born. In Pittsburgh, Glenn started a career with Gulf Oil that would take his family first to Texas in 1980 and then to England in 1981.

Having returned to Pittsburgh and with her sons older, Mary Jane went back to school at the University of Pittsburgh to receive a paralegal certification in 1987. When the family moved to Edgartown in 1988, she found a job as a title examiner with the law firm of Reynolds, Rappaport, and Kaplan. This was an ideal career for her, incorporating documentary research, architectural history, genealogy and Vineyard history. She gained a reputation for being able to unravel the most complicated land title problems on the Island, tracking land transfers back to the mid-17th century in many cases. She retired in 2009.

In addition to a rewarding career, Mary Jane found on Martha’s Vineyard a supportive and active community. Mary Jane and Glenn were members of the Federated Church for more than two decades, stalwarts of the choir and pillars of the church. They were also an integral part of the church’s choir tours in Europe. They sang in many old European churches and were the day’s choir for the Sunday service of the American Church of Paris.

She was the Island’s resident expert on residential real estate, especially in Edgartown, from her many years of doing title work. She was the clerk of the church on and off for many years, including this year, keeping careful track of all of the official business of the church council.

Mary Jane endowed her many talents, energy and infectious enthusiasm to the Friends of the Edgartown Free Public Library for more than 10 years. As president, she led the Friends organization through many successful fundraising efforts in support of the library’s building project. The Friends, as well as the Edgartown Public Library, received the honor of being chronicled in a book she wrote titled The Edgartown Free Public Library, 1891-2016: A Brief History of the Library and its Friends. In addition to her work with the library, Mary Jane served on the board of the Edgartown Council on Aging.

The death of her older son, Bob, in 2016 and of Glenn in 2017 were difficult blows for Mary Jane that were softened by the arrival of her dog, Teddy, by her strong relationships with her son, daughters-in-law and granddaughter and by the friendship of so many who appreciated her laugh, sincerity, appreciation for good books, local history and love of a good bargain.

She is predeceased by her husband of 50 years, Glenn; her son, Robert; and her brother, John Scheidhauer, of Mercer, Pa.

She is survived by her sister, Jean, of Littleton, Colo.; her son, William, and his wife Ellen, of Falls Church, Va; and her daughter-in-law, Amy, and granddaughter.

A memorial service will be held in the future when friends and family can gather again. Donations in her memory may be sent to The Federated Church of Martha’s Vineyard, PO Box 249 and to the Friends of the Edgartown Public Library, PO Box 5249, both in Edgartown, MA 02539.

Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit for online guest book and information.