The flag stood at half-mast outside of the Ag Hall in West Tisbury, a shining green John Deere tractor parked beneath it in honor of longtime Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society president Elisha Smith, who died Friday. He was 90 years old.
A graveside service and Masonic service were held earlier in the day for Mr. Smith at the family plot at Smith Cemetery off Barnes Road in Oak Bluffs. Mr. Smith was not only the seventh generation of Smiths to be born on the Island, he was the seventh Elisha.
Inside the entry room of the agricultural hall, memories from Mr. Smith’s long and fruitful life were on display in everything from the wall of photos to the hand-painted Katama Farm sign on the mantle. A series of family scrapbooks, complied by Elisha’s daughter Jody Battistini, lay on a row of tables also filled with newspaper articles, magazine stories and framed photos. A potluck feast was laid out, spilling over in to the main hall, where two dessert tables were laden with cakes, cookies, brownies,and cupcakes, including a batch of green-frosted treats adorned with tiny farm animals.
“Dad would’ve loved those,” Carol Pearson, Elisha’s eldest daughter, said to a friend.
“This is so fitting for my dad,” Mrs. Battastini said. “He loved people, he loved life . . . and he loved food!” She recalled that more than 300 people attended Mr. Smith’s 80th birthday, also held at the agricultural hall. A Gazette article reporting on the festivities noted that it took Mr. Smith two days to go through all of his cards.
Mr. Smith’s 90th birthday party this past January was a small affair, Mrs. Battastini said. Only 30 attended, all family and extended family. And at that party, Mr. Smith took a photo with the newest member of the group — his great-great granddaughter, Lennox, who was not even a month old at the time.
Lennox herself, now a week shy of three months, slept through much of the afternoon potluck, her pink onesie with a bright green John Deere tractor across the front visible for all to see.