Margot Loines Morrow Wilkie, born on Staten Island, died peacefully on Martha’s Vineyard at the age of 101.
Margot had come to the Vineyard almost every summer of her life, since her birth on Feb. 24, 1912. She was active in the Bodhi Path Buddhist Center on the Vineyard as well as in the Gadenpa Buddhist Center in Queens, N.Y. A devout Buddhist, she had organized study groups in Manhattan for decades.
Born in Dongan Hills, Margot was the second daughter of Russell Hillard Loines and Katherine Conger Loines. Her father helped start Dongan Hall, a girls school, which both daughters attended. Mr. Loines, a marine insurance lawyer, knew Willoughby Webb, son in law of Nathaniel Shaler, who bought the West Tisbury and Chilmark land that would later become Seven Gates Farm. The Loines family spent summers there in an old farmhouse until they built their own house on the shore in 1925. That’s where Margot died peacefully according to Buddhist traditions, on August 21, the day of the full moon.
As children, Margot and her older sister Bobbie explored nearby roads, fields and beaches. One of their favorite projects was to walk or ride their own ponies up then-unpaved North Road to where Mrs. Charles Putnam raised and trained Shetland ponies. Mrs. Putnam encouraged the farm children to ride her ponies so the animals would become more gentle and accustomed to children, and hence more saleable. She organized games that resembled small rodeos. Katherine Loines was one of Seven Gates’s founding members. Russell took his two daughters sailing in a catboat to Tarpaulin Cove on Naushon and to Nashawena Island. Russell, a supporter and lover of the arts with a poetry prize in his name, died in 1922 when Margot was 10.
After high school, Margot went to Oxford, England, for a year, where she lived with her Aunt Molly and attended classes. Then she spent two years at Radcliffe before leaving to pursue acting in New York. She acted off-Broadway and on Broadway once in Panic, an Orson Welles production that lasted four days. With Constance Morrow, one of her closest friends, she started the Brattleboro Summer Theatre in Vermont. Constance introduced her to her brother Dwight Whitney Morrow Jr., who became her first husband in 1937.
With Dwight she went on the Harvard Columbus Expedition, led by Samuel Eliot Morrison. Dwight’s health was not good, so during the second World War they went out west to the Carmel Valley where they ran a dairy farm. Together they had three children: Stephen, who married Ana Rios and died in 1987; Faith, married to Stephen F. Williams. and Constance, married to Michael Fulenwider.
They were divorced in 1946. Margot went back to live with her mother in law in Englewood for a year or two, spent six months on the Vineyard in 1948, then moved to New York. There were parties, lots of parties, and like her father she liked the company of writers. Legend has it that Bill Maxwell threw John Cheever out the window during a party at the house she rented on 4 Riverview Terrace in New York. (It was really Stuart Wells, Maxwell said.)
In 1954 Margot married John Wilkie, a utilities executive and trustee of Vassar College. They combined their families in a large house in Katonah, N.Y. John, who had lived in Poughkeepsie, had four children to her three, and all were relatively young, from 7 to 17. They lived in New York city and Katonah for many years, until John died in 1991. During the marriage Margot made a serious study of Eastern religions, traveling to India with the writer Nancy Wilson Ross and reading about them with a group of friends. After John’s death, Margot lived in Manhattan and continued her support and study of Buddhism.
When Ken Burns was working on his documentary Prohibition, he interviewed Margot, then in her late nineties, about her memories. Part of her wry discussion of social life in the 1920s served as his trailer (pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition).
All her life she spent summers on Martha’s Vineyard. It was at her summer house, where she could enjoy the lovely picture window views of the ocean for yet another glorious summer, where she died on August 21.
She is survived by two children, three step-children, eight grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.