Long-time summer resident, Ruth Young Grand, 94, of Topsham, Maine, died peacefully of natural causes on January 28, 2015. She was born on November 11, 1920, the daughter of the late William Henry Young and Ruth Agnes Gervais in New York City. She was raised by her grandmother, Minnie Knowlton Young. Ruth graduated from the Tuxedo Park School and Miss Hewitt’s Classes in 1938. She married the late Gordon Grand Jr. on February 27, 1943 at The Church of the Incarnation in New York City. They lived in Millbrook, NY, Washington, DC, and Greenwich, CT. They started coming to Fishers shortly after World War II, purchasing their first house, on Shingle Hill, in 1958. The house remains in the family to this day.
A classically trained pianist, at age 15 Ruth was awarded the youth medal by Lily Pons for her accomplishments in the New York Philharmonic Symphony Concert Program, under the direction of Ernest Shelling. She went on to teach piano to such notables as Peter Duchin of the Peter Duchin Orchestra. In the 1960’s and early 70’s, she served as the summer organist for the St. John’s Episcopal Church on Fishers Island, where she started the Church’s first children’s choir.
An avid horticulturist and ornithologist, and inspired by Euell Gibbons’ Stalking the Wild Asparagus, she was known to host what she called “Fishers Potluck Dinners” on South Beach, where guests were asked to bring wild food, harvested from the island. The meals usually involved fresh stripers, bluefish, mussels, local island greens and s’mores harvested from Doyens’ grocery store.
Ruth was a familiar fixture on both the Olinda and Mystic Isle, especially off season. She appreciated Fishers most for its abundant wildlife, native plants and quietude. Once summer started, however, she organized a busy family summer of Hay Harbor sports, beach outings and island living. Her most often-heard instruction: “don’t let the screen door slam!”
Off season, Ruth was a devoted horticultural volunteer working at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and The New Canaan Nature Center. In her later years, she supervised the summer intern program in the native plant garden of the Acadia National Park in Northeast Harbor, ME.
Ruth is survived by her children: Gordon Grand III, of North Salem, NY; Lorna Grand Stengel of Brunswick, ME; Diana Grand Masters of South Hadley, MA; and Timothy Weatherford Grand of Coconut Grove, FL. She is predeceased by her brother, Henry Knowlton Young, and her oldest daughter, Minette Dill Grand Krech. She is also survived by ten grandchildren: Kerry Krech Morrison, Teal Krech Paynter, Angela Grand Cavallo, Harry Spencer Grand, Jake Weatherford Grand, Brooke Stengel Murdock, William Pepper Stengel II, Diana Stengel Lyman, Henry-Gordon Masters and Timothy James Masters; as well as 16 great-grandchildren.
A service will be held at 11:30 AM on August 8, 2015 at St. John’s Church on Fishers Island. Donations in her memory can be made to the Fishers Island Conservancy, P.O Box 553, Fishers Island, NY 06390 or at http://www.fishersislandconservancy.org.