Ruth Ellen Chapel Grieder crossed over the bar Saturday, February 27, 2016, surrounded by her family. Born and raised on Nantucket and Tuckernuck, she graduated from Nantucket High School in 1945 and attended Bridgewater State College. She was the daughter of James Everett and Della Chapel, and sister of Mary Susan Chapel Humphrey and James Everett Chapel, Jr. who predeceased her.
As a teenager on Nantucket, she met her future husband Bill when his parents were stationed at Great Point Light. They were married for over 62 years, raising their family on Orange Street, and retiring to live on Hither Creek in Madaket in 1990. A few years after Bill’s passing in 2009, she made her home at Sherburne Commons. She leaves her son, William E. Grieder, Jr. and his wife, Kathleen Rose Grieder of Nantucket, and a daughter Jacquelyn Chapel Grieder Jette of Palm City, FL. She is also survived by four grandchildren - James E. Grieder and his wife Katharine Robinson Grieder of Nantucket, Scott R. Grieder and his wife Charlise Tiee Grieder of Alameda, CA, Barbara Jette Davis and her husband Gregg of Marstons Mills, Karen Louise Jette of Walpole, one niece, Susan Humphrey Carson, two nephews, Robert and David Humphrey and their families, seven great grandchildren and one great, great-grandchild.
In her earlier years, Ruth worked at various island establishments and had great tales to tell about The Breakers, The Gordon Folger, The Four Chimneys, The Ship’s Inn and The Mad Hatter. In 1968, Dr. David Voorhees, a new physician on island, asked her to organize and manage his new general practice office next door on Orange Street, a position she loved and held until retirement in 1988. Ruth and Bill also ran the Grieder Guest House and Madaket rental cottages for over thirty years. Ruth especially loved helping many Nantucket families through births and illnesses, and made close friendships with islanders and visitors alike.
Ruth was the Chaplain of the Daughters of the American Revolution for over thirty years, a member of the Wharf Rats, the Nantucket Relief Association, the Eastern Star, and the Rebeccas. She was also an active member of the Madaket Conservation Association, a previous board member of the Nantucket Historical Association and the Shipwreck and Maritime Museum. She was especially proud of the “Gutsy Gal” award presented to her by the Egan Maritime Institute. Ruth was also a lifetime member of the Nantucket Angler’s Club. Secretary of her high school class, she maintained close contact with her classmates, organizing their reunions every five years until their 65th in 2010.
An avid history buff, Ruth shared her family history of Nantucket, Tuckernuck and Muskeget with the NHA, the Shipwreck and Maritime Museum, and was a contributor to several books and articles on Nantucket History. She often gave interviews to writers and students about her interesting island life. Many people enjoyed her “gams” at the NHA, and on National Public Radio.
Some of her greatest recollections were of her beloved Tuckernuck Island, where she spent many childhood years, making lasting friendships and wonderful memories. Ruth was loved island-wide, and will be remembered for her kindness and generosity. She thoroughly enjoyed sharing time and stories with friends and family, whether it be over a game of scrabble or cards, sitting on the deck at Madaket, or holding court at the Pond House on Tuckernuck. Many days were spent clamming, looking for arrowheads, or entertaining friends and family at every opportunity.
The family would like to acknowledge and thank the staff of Sherburne Commons for making the past two years of her life active and enjoyable. The care and comfort provided by Sherburne Commons Assisted Living Staff and the Palliative Care Services staff during these last days is greatly appreciated by the family.
A private burial was held on Wednesday, March 2, 2016, at Prospect Hill Cemetery. A Celebration of Life will be held this August. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Nantucket Relief Association, (PO Box 585, Nantucket MA 02554), Nantucket Shipwreck and Maritime Museum (PO BOX 2923, Nantucket MA 02554) or Palliative and Supportive Care of Nantucket (57 Prospect St. Nantucket, MA 02554).