Vera Shorter died at her home on Martha’s Vineyard on Feb. 26 with her two daughters nearby. She was 98, and had celebrated her birthday in December with her 97-year-old friend Betty Dixon.

She was born in Huntington, L.I., in 1922 to Sue Hendrickson and Claude Groves.

Her mother’s family lived on Long Island for over 100 years and were of black American and Shinnecock stock. Her mother was a musician who had learned to play the piano at an early age. Her father, 14 years older than her mother, was a World War I veteran who had fought in the 369th Infantry, commonly known as the Harlem Hellfighters. Due to the segregation of the American army at the time, the 369th Infantry fought with the French and won the Croix de Guerre for its heroism. Her mother’s musical talent would get the family through hard times by her work in night clubs, bars and churches. Vera was the youngest of three children, preceded by her siblings Eugene and Marie. Although her parents separated, she had a loving relationship with both, spending time in Brooklyn with her father and on Long Island with her mother.

She always knew she wanted to make something of herself and help her community, but was thwarted at first. She received a full scholarship to Plattsburg College to study home economics, but did not know about it until years later when she learned that a great aunt, jealous of Vera’s ambition, had intercepted and hidden the acceptance papers. Instead Vera enrolled in Alpha Business School in Brooklyn and became a secretary.

She always joked that in any event she was better with words and numbers than with pots, pans and needles.

She married Rufus B. Shorter in 1943, a graduate of Lincoln University and a sergeant in the army, who served in North Africa and Italy. She participated in Brooklyn community life, helping youth groups, organizing concerts, recruiting black celebrities to contribute to these activities and, of course, working with the NAACP and ASALH (association for the study of African American life and history). She also continued her training by studying accounting at Pace College and later at Queens College.

Vera and Rufus had two daughters, Lynn and Beth. Rufus worked as a teacher, then as an administrator at the New York Board of Education, rising to the position of assistant superintendent of special education. Vera was hired as an auditor at the IRS, working her way up to office manager, group manager and then equal employment opportunity officer. They were the first African-Americans to reach those positions.

Vera enjoyed writing and often contributed articles to black publications, including Black Odyssey and Our World. When the family moved to Saint Albans, Queens, she joined with Henrietta and Ella Ferguson to create a local newspaper called the Community Chatter. She was also president of the neighborhood civic association and the PTA.

The Shorters began visiting Martha’s Vineyard regularly in the late 1960s, renting in the summers and eventually buying a summer home. They moved to the Vineyard permanently when Rufus became the superintendent of schools on the Vineyard in 1976. He was instrumental in coordinating efforts to build the Performing Arts Center and revitalizing the Nathan Mayhew Seminars, while Vera organized and participated in many fund-raising events. She increased her participation after Rufus’s sudden death in 1980.

Vera was tireless in her community work, joining not only the NAACP where for years she chaired the legal redress committee, and ASALH, but also serving as president of the Lagoon Pond Association, and on the boards of the Affirmative Action Committee of the schools, Nathan Mayhew Seminars and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. She received many awards, including the Island NAACP’s humanitarian award in 1996, and in 2009 the NAACP New England Chapter’s Living Legend Award.

She loved to read and participate in book clubs. She also loved to entertain and would tell all her friends that cocktail time was at four o’clock any day of the week. No holiday went uncelebrated, and since her birthday was near Christmastime, her house was opened to well-wishers. Her friends knew to expect a party the week after Christmas and Vera would navigate the crowd with a smile, a joke and her natural warmth.

She is survived by her two daughters, Lynn Shorter, a retired educator and poet living in England, and Beth Shorter Bagot, a retired dancer and language teacher living in France; a grandson Gabriel Bagot; a niece Sheila Davis; nephew Dr. Michael Dunham, late nephew Ronald Dunham, late niece Zoe Dunham and their children and grandchildren.

Per Vera’s wishes, there will be no services, but a celebration of her life will occur at a future date.

Donations can be made to the NAACP, ASALH, of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.