June Manning, a matriarch of Aquinnah who was deeply rooted in her small town at the western edge of the Vineyard but in a sense called everywhere home because of her welcoming spirit, died Monday at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. She was 74 and had been the Aquinnah town columnist for the Gazette for 28 years.

Visiting hours will be held on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral home in Oak Bluffs. A graveside service will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Gay Head cemetery. A gathering at the tribal community center will follow.

Known for her good will and can-do energy, Ms. Manning was a Wampanoag tribal elder who wore many hats around the Island. From serving on various boards including Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, Martha’s Vineyard Museum and the Vineyard Transit Authority to volunteering at the Chicken Alley Thrift Shop, Serving Hands food distribution and the Council on Aging — she not only knew nearly every organization on the Island but knew everyone by their first name.

She wrote her first column for the Gazette on June 18, 1993, which began by celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Community Baptist Church of Gay Head. From there it was on to announcing births and milestones, the comings and goings of seasonal friends and longtime Islanders, when the shad bloomed and the herring arrived. She always included condolences too, taking care to remember lives lost, and provided weekly updates on the Coast Guard at Station Menemsha, where she served as unofficial grandmother, bringing meals and raising funds for the Coasties and their families.

A day with June would mean driving the circumference of the Island more than once as she stopped to check in on the people, places and nonprofits she loved and advocated for. 

She graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1964, and never missed a reunion or chance to celebrate her classmates in her column. She always took the time to call new Gazette reporters to encourage them and let them know when she appreciated a story.

In 2011 she wrote an essay for the Gazette about her love for Aquinnah, where she was born and raised and later in life returned to live.

“Perhaps the best aspect of living in Aquinnah is that my neighborhood is under the beacon of the lighthouse,” she wrote. “There is a constant peace and calmness just watching the beams of the light, day and night. The lighthouse beams across our neighborhood in silence through the night and dances around during the day.

“Having resided in many neighborhoods over the years, I can say with certainty that not one is as nice and comfortable as our Aquinnah neighborhood. This was the neighborhood where I first lived as a newborn, in my youth, and for the past 21 years once again. I plan to stay forever.”

News of her death spread quickly around the Island Tuesday, sparking condolences and expressions of appreciation, including from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and Community Services.

The three Aquinnah selectmen paused their regular meeting late Tuesday afternoon to remember Ms. Manning.

She’s especially known for her council on aging situation meetings . . . She will be missed,” said board member Gary Haley.

“The loss of June Manning is unbearable, really . . . It’s a devastating loss for the community, but especially for the Manning family,” said board member Tom Murphy.

Board chairman Juli Vanderhoop called it a generational loss.

“This is a generation that we’re watching pass over us,” she said. “Leaving their stories with us to be carried . . . the burden is very heavy.”

Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chairman of the Wampanoag tribe, issued a formal statement, calling Ms. Manning an unofficial ambassador and voice for the tribe in the Vineyard community.

“We were saddened by the news of the passing of our tribal elder June Manning. June has been a constant in our community for decades. She served our tribal community in so many capacities . . . she was our resident genealogist, and of course our community newscaster,” the statement said in part.

In a personal aside, Ms. Andrew-Maltais called Ms. Manning a friend and family member.

“It’s a very sad day for us all. She was my cousin and my friend. I will miss her very much,” the tribal chairman said in a text message to the Gazette.

The Chicken Alley thrift shop at Community Services took special note of her contributions.

“June was a great champion of Chicken Alley and of Community Services,” Jessica Tartell wrote in an emailed statement that went out early Tuesday. “She loved serving on this committee and volunteering her time in the store. We will all miss her more than words can express. She was not just our co-worker but our dear friend as well.”

Gazette editor Julia Wells said Ms. Manning was a treasured longtime correspondent.

“We all loved June. She was a force of nature and kept us all in check. And she did so much for the Vineyard,” Ms. Wells said.

Aidan Pollard contributed reporting.