Esther Ann Chase died quietly at home, surrounded by family, on Feb. 8. She was 94.

The daughter of Hiram Arthur Schubert and Ruth (Johnson) Schubert, she was born in East Rockaway, N.Y. on Dec. 11, 1926. She spent her childhood years in Lynbrook on Long Island, where her father was a school principal and her mother a French teacher. She and her older sister Jane grew up in a home surrounded by craftwork: her father was a painter, silversmith and woodcarver, while her mother made clothes, hooked rugs, and made ornaments.

She attended Dean Junior College and the School for American Craftsman at Alfred University, where she befriended many future famous craftsmen of her day, including ceramicists, woodworkers and Native American jewelry makers. Her craft of choice was weaving.

After college, she worked at Old Sturbridge Village as the village weaver. In 1950 she represented the village in the Sportsman’s Show, an expo at the Grand Central Palace in New York city. There she met a young hotelier, Paul Chase. A recent college graduate who was about to enter the Army, he was representing the Vineyard and his family’s multi-generational hotel on Oak Bluffs harbor, the Wesley House. They married on May 26, 1953.

They lived in Hampton, Va., for their first year where Paul finished his last assignment at Fort Monroe, and then hastened back to the Vineyard, where their first child was born, as were all their sons. Soon after they settled permanently on the Island, Paul managing the Wesley with his father, Ann setting up her first shop Ayn’s Shuttle Shop in the hotel. Besides her work, she was active in church and civic causes, including the Triniteers, Eastern Star, and teaching through the Dukes County Extension Service.

When the Wesley sold in 1985, Ann moved her shop to Edgartown for several years. After that, she and other Island craftsmen formed the Women’s Co-op, a cooperative where they sold their wares in Vineyard Haven. She later sold her goods out of Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven, Secret Garden in Oak Bluffs, via her website, and out of her home studio near East Chop.

Weaving was the foundation of her craft work, but she constantly experimented with various materials, media and endless new products, most notably hand-sculpted and painted lampshades, Christmas ornaments, and glass cup plates. The thread that connected all her work was utility: a product had to be as useful as it was beautiful, well-crafted and durable for everyday use.

Her early woven work was known for its detail and intricate patterning. Besides curtains, dresses, scarves, ties and other clothing, she eventually concentrated on placemats. Known for their durability, she sold thousands. In later years, her eyesight began to fail, but her creativity prevailed and her craftsmanship adapted. She turned from detail and concentrated instead on bold colors and patterns. The personality of her shop changed from a place of elegant beauty to one of youthful exuberance. Up until the last few months of her life, Ann was never without a project in hand. From her tiny shop on the Vineyard, her placemats and lampshades found their way around the world. Well over a thousand miles of yarn have passed through her hands.

Craftwork was second only to her love for family, which was unwavering and unconditional. Her particular delight was teaching craft to others, particularly young people. She took great pride in the accomplishments of talented protégés, including Johanna Klingensmith and Erin Mercer.

She is survived by her husband, Paul, her sons Whit, Dana and Tom; her daughter in law Cathy Chase; and her nieces Susan Mercer of Florida and Linda Knappenberger of Colorado and their families.

The family thanks Ann’s support network, all of whom became like family, including Gertrude Ahey, Jeni Allen, Sue Angele, Island Australia, Sandi Corr-Dolby, Cheryl Kram, Kamil Furtado, Alison Graczykowski, Kate Kane, Lilly Kinba, Rachel Perry and Elise Ray.

A graveside service will be arranged at a post-pandemic date.

Donations can be made to American Cancer Society online (

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