Clara Silva Rabbitt died peacefully at her Vineyard Haven home on April 4, Easter Sunday. She was 99 and just a few months’ shy of her 100th birthday.

She was born Sept. 13, 1921 to Virginia and Joseph Silva in the farmhouse at Tea Lane Farm in Chilmark. Attending Chilmark’s single-room schoolhouse, Clara graduated from the Tisbury High School in 1939. She left the farm and moved to Vineyard Haven, where she worked as a waitress at Hallowell’s under what is now Leslie’s Drugstore.

She met the handsome Owen Rabbitt and they married in 1941, with two boys who soon followed. They eventually settled in their house on Franklin street.

Clara worked at other Vineyard Haven restaurants, including the Art Cliff Diner when it was a small place with just bar stools. She opened houses in the spring alongside her mother and her crew for Hope Flanders Real Estate and, for decades, worked summers at Chappaquonsett for the Philbins and their children.

A great patriot, she never missed a parade. She was a familiar face at the Tisbury polls as a checker for more than 30 years, always with a flag pin on her lapel. It was always the more flags the better for her window box at her Vineyard Haven home.

Clara’s eyes shone bright when she spoke of her family. She was forever proud of her two sons, Owen Rabbitt Jr. and Richard Rabbitt, who both joined the Coast Guard in the early 1960s. She was quick to visit wherever they were stationed around the world.

With seven grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren, she was always busy knitting. Her uncountable sweaters, bonnets and afghans made over the last nine decades will continue to warm generations of babies to come.

She loved flowers, especially daffodils, and took great advantage of her membership at Polly Hill Arboretum and nearby botanical gardens when traveling. Quite the bibliophile, she loved Zane Grey westerns and had a voracious appetite for autobiographies. Her favorite read was her Bible, in which she would look for God’s truth to always provide a way.

Clara spent many winters visiting her childhood friend Eileen and her husband Walter Caldwell. She attended Orlando Bible Church and enjoyed all the great attractions in Orlando. In her

later years, she enjoyed the warmer weather on the beaches of Anna Marie Island and daily outings up and down the west coast of Florida with Everel Black and other snowbird friends.

She is survived by five grandchildren whom she called her own and who loved her completely: Melinda Rabbitt DeFeo and her husband Mark of Edgartown, Terry H. Rabbitt of San Diego, Cindy L. Rabbitt of Cape Canaveral, Raymond J. Rabbitt of Valdosta, Ga., and Christine Cardoza and her husband Paul of Edgartown; her beloved great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; her brother, Elmer Silva of Vineyard Haven; daughters in law Brenda Rabbitt of Fort Pierce, Fla. and Barbara Rabbitt of Mobile, Al.; and numerous nieces and nephews. All who knew Clara will hold her memory close.

She was predeceased by her husband Owen Sr., who died in 1990; sons Owen Jr. and Rick; and granddaughter Leslie Rabbitt Felix.

A funeral service was held in April. Interment was private at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven.

Donations can be made to: Interserve USA, c/o International Service Fellowship, P.O. Box 418, Upper Darby, PA 19082-0418 and online at; or to CRU, c/o CRU Foundation, P.O. Box 628222, Orlando, FL 32862-8222 and online at