Our Island community lost a dear friend, trusted advisor, scholar, and a gentleman who epitomized all the best of the Vineyard. The following was message sent in response to Kent Healy’s passing, by Executive Director, Emily Reddington, to the Great Pond Foundation Board of Directors. Per the request of the Board, we wanted to share it with the Great Pond community. Reflections of the Board in response are shared as well.
Kent Healy, at the opening of Tisbury Great Pond. Photo by Alley Moore, courtesy of the Vineyard Gazette.

Good morning,

The Island’s great ponds have lost a friend. Kent Healy, WT selectman, civil engineer, longtime Tisbury Great Pond sewer, and a man with a depth of great pond knowledge that was based on 4 decades of study has passed away: https://vineyardgazette.com/news/2021/10/31/kent-healy-west-tisbury-selectman-longtime-civil-engineer-dies-89

The last time I spoke with Kent was sitting on the porch of Alley’s General Store on the afternoon of September 16th.  We were talking about a grant proposal that David [Bouck, GPF Watershed Outreach Manager] had written and GPF was about to submit to the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation requesting support to digitize historic Tisbury Great Pond data.  This grant was written not only with the awareness of the value of preserving decades of laborious data collection and study in order to inform future pond preservation, but also with the awareness that time is finite and we did not want to lose this generational knowledge.  No one, including Kent, knew at the time how truly finite time was.  In the middle of last week, Kent was diagnosed with late stage cancer.  He passed away just a few days later. 

Life, with its rhythms, seems to have a synchronicity well beyond my comprehension.  On Saturday afternoon I received word of Kent’s diagnosis and a few minutes after reading that sad email, I received another from Emily Bramhall of the MV Community Foundation stating: 

I am very pleased to share with you that Great Pond Foundation has been awarded a $10,000 matching grant to fund the important project, Preserving History and Protecting Tisbury Great Pond.  This is an incentive grant that will be paid upon the balance of the request being received from other resources.  We would like to partner with the riparian owners in order to achieve full funding.  

Emily Bramhall, Executive Director of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation

Should you be curious, I have attached the grant application, including Kent’s letter of support, which he wrote promptly and sent to our office electronically, and then also by physical mail, as was his meticulous manner.  When we met at Alley’s in mid-September, Kent had said he was ready to hand his decades of data over to Great Pond Foundation, as his work with it was done and he trusted our team to carry on the work.  Kent was a man of his word, and when he did not show up at our offices with the endless milk crates of data he promised, I suspected he was not doing well. 

Kent was extremely generous to Great Pond Foundation with his time and knowledge. He was infinitely patient with questions and repeated requests for help, and he was unfailing kind, knowledgeable, and collaborative.  For many homes around Edgartown Great Pond whose basements stay dry as the elevation rises, that is because Kent engineered those systems.  In my time at GPF, I don’t recall ever receiving a bill for Kent’s time, nor did I ever send a request for help that was not immediately responded to with full care and attention. With Kent’s passing, we have lost a key member of our pond community. I hope that our work will help to preserve some small bit of his generational knowledge. 

All the best,


For all the countless times that Kent’s name and expertise came up in our board meetings, your letter touched on the emotional impact Kent had on people and on ponds. It should make us all proud that we can now help preserve all the data that Kent generated on Tisbury Great Pond.  

Michael Shalett, GPF Director & President

Kent was one of the kindest and most decent men I have ever known. We are all far better people for having had the blessing of his friendship. 

Kristina West, GPF Director
Kent Healy captured by John Becker in 2011 atop a mound of sand at Tisbury Great Pond. Photo courtesy of Ollie Becker.

Very sad news about a towering force in protecting the island and a great friend of the Great Pond Foundation. He will be sorely missed. 

Bob Rukeyser, GPF Director & Treasurer

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Kent and share your sentiments. He was a wonderful mix of impressive intellect combined with very practical common sense/judgement who was apolitical and generous to the core. We will all miss his experience and sound wisdom. May he Rest In Peace.

Richard Saltzman, GPF Director