Kathleen Emmet Darman of McLean, Va., died March 6 in Washington, D.C., at the age of 78. A writer, teacher and beloved mother she was a lifelong summer resident of the Vineyard.

She was born in Boston in December 1942 to Eleanor Motley and William Temple Emmet 2nd. Her father, a B-17 pilot in the 8th Air Force, was killed in the air over Germany in February of 1945. In the summer of that year, she came to the Island for the first time with her mother and grandmother. Among her earliest memories was watching adults walk into Vineyard Haven for V-J Day celebrations, the joy in the streets in striking contrast with the grief that still filled her own home.

Her mother remarried, to Richard Lee, in 1948 and they all moved to Chestnut Hill, where Kathleen, known as Kath, was soon joined by three sisters — Kristin, Linsey and Susannah Lee. Her paternal grandmother, Helen Pratt Philbin, kept a summer home at Chappaquonsett and Kath and her sisters spent summers there with the extended Emmet family. There they sailed and swam in Vineyard Sound, played charades and journeyed to Quansoo for sprawling family beach picnics. All her life, Kath would recall childhood hours spent staring longingly at the south shore surf, forbidden to go in the water until adults arose from endless postprandial naps.

She attended the Winsor School in Boston and St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson, Md. She graduated from Radcliffe College where she studied British history and literature and received her doctorate from Tufts, focusing on the work of Evelyn Waugh and the dandy-aesthetes of interwar England.

In 1967, she married Richard Darman, a Harvard contemporary. In the early 1970s, they moved to Washington where she taught English literature, first at Federal City College and later at American University.

Richard Darman had a long career in government, holding senior policy positions under four Republican presidents including as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under the first President Bush. Kath admired her husband’s commitment to public service if not the political party in which he worked. She retained a lifelong skepticism of the Washington power game.

She raised three sons in McLean in a house on a wooded hill above the Potomac River. A New Englander first and last, she despaired over snow-deprived Washington winters and in particularly warm years encouraged “wet-leaf sledding” so her children would not suffer.

They spent summers on the Vineyard, first near Kath’s family on the north side and later at their own home on the Edgartown Great Pond. She took special care to ensure that her children, and later her grandchildren, experienced the pleasures of her own childhood summers: games and singing by firelight, long days at the Ag fair and glorious up-Island beach expeditions with stops for ice cream on the way home.

Following the death of her husband in 2008, she threw herself into core passions — writing, teaching, reading and travel. Particularly meaningful was a visit to Pfaffenhofen an der Roth, the Bavarian village where the wreckage of her father’s plane was recovered and where, in 2011, townspeople dedicated a memorial to him and the other members of his crew.

In her last years, Kath cherished the clear, late-summer beauty of the Vineyard in September. The crowds had gone and the days were growing shorter but the ocean still called out to her and she never stopped dreaming of the surf.

She is survived by her three sons, William and Jonathan Darman of New York and Emmet Darman of Washington; and three granddaughters, Jane, Emma and Edith; three sisters, Kristin Lee of Nahant, Linsey Lee of West Tisbury and Susannah Lee of Buckland; and eight nieces and nephews. The family plans a memorial service in Washington in September, pandemic conditions allowing.

Donations can be made to Martha’s Table (marthastable.org) or the Martha’s Vineyard Museum (mvmuseum.org).