Lynn Gatchell died peacefully on Sept. 30, surrounded by her loving family holding her hands and telling her stories.

Lynn Barbara Pearce was born to Lillian (Greenwalt) and Richard Pearce on July 19, 1951. She was forever a child of the summer, loving hot weather, tie-dye, and swimming. She held swimming and diving records at Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University).

Lynn met Rob Gatchell in the fall of 1973. Rob was in New Jersey at a going away party for a buddy joining the Navy. A few weeks later when he was back on-Island he received a letter from Lynn. Although they had not met at the party, she was taking the initiative to gather letters for the friend joining the Navy so he wouldn’t feel homesick heading off in his next big adventure. Rob was touched by the thoughtfulness of this woman and wanted to know more about her. Letters were exchanged. Photos were sent. Soon they were spending the holidays together visiting Rob’s family.

Everyone in the family was so quickly enamored with her that it should be no surprise that Rob proposed just a few short months later on Good Friday in 1974, and they were married Oct. 19 in that same year. It was a whirlwind romance.

Lynn became a mother on July 4, 1981 to her son Kyle. She would go on to tell him that all the hullaballoo with the parades and fireworks were to celebrate him, which was a brilliant way to add a little extra fun to his birthday and give her laugh in the process. As a family they took many trips to Disney World where they undoubtedly felt more at ease around a bunch of characters. Illumination Night, the Oak Bluffs fireworks display, and many other community-based events benefited from the Gatchell work ethic and commitment to the Island.

Most Island families have been touched in some way by the annual Christmas lights display at their home on County Road. Part festive gathering, part fundraiser for the Island Food Pantry, for many families it was a go-to destination for decades. Many of Lynn’s students have become parents themselves and bring their own children to see the lights.

Lynn’s commitment to the future of Martha’s Vineyard was evident even in her profession; she was a fifth and sixth grade science teacher at the Tisbury School from 1975 to 2012. She also worked with the Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers throughout her career, holding the position of president for a time. She had a passion for education that extended beyond seeing her students do well academically. A formidable opponent to standardized testing, she wanted to see her students become critical thinkers and problem solvers. Her former students say she pushed everyone to be the best version of themselves.

Lynn fought a long, hard, three-year battle with cancer. Despite constant pain and discomfort, she never lost hope of getting better. She also never lost her sense of humor. Hers is a legacy of laughter, speaking your mind (you can take the girl out of New Jersey . . .), and creating your own community wherever you find yourself.

In addition to her loving husband, she is survived by her son Kyle, his wife Jennifer, and their two children Alison and Jacob; sister Alice and her family, sister Janet; brother Richie and his wife Tracy; and countless friends, neighbors, and acquaintances from the Vineyard to Florida that will miss swapping stories over a cup of tea (or glass of wine, depending on the time of day) with her.

Per Lynn’s wishes, there will be no funeral. The Gatchell family asks that you call a friend to catch up, watch your favorite Disney movie, and consider donating to the Island Food Pantry, P.O. Box 1874, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.