Nancy Prada (nee Convery) Young
Obituary: Friday, August 29, 2008. Vineyard Gazette
Nancy Prada (Conve;ry) Young of Edgartown, for many yeears the owner with her husband, the late Arthur W. Young Jr. and her brother, Leo P. Convery, of the Harborside Inn on South Water street died August 14 in Boston after a brief illness. She was 77. She and her husband were also the owners of the Navigator Resturant and Boathouse Bar at the foot of Main street.
Her grandfather Antone Prada Jr. and his Scottish-born wife Jenny (Hoey) Prada in 1914 bought an old South water street boarding house and converted it into the inn. Later her parents enlarged it by adding four captains' houses.
Nancy Convery was born February 5, 1931, at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, a daughter of the late Leo J. Convery and the late Irene (Prada) Convery. She attended the Edgartown School and the MacDuffie School for Girls in Northhampton and was a 1948 graduate of the Northfield School for Girls in East Northfield. From 1948 until 1950, she was a student at the Cornell University School of Hotel Management in Ithaca, New York. Back on the Vineyard the summer after her first year, she met dashing Arthur Young from Jamaica Plain who had earned his pilot's license in a World War II V-5 Naval Aviation program and was a student at Columbia University in New York city. His father was the Eastern regional manager for the Angelica Uniform Company that provided uniforms for the Harborside Inn, and Arthur had been given a Harborside Inn summer job. Nancy, his boss's pretty blue-eyed daugher, was working at the inn as a waitress. In the fall Nancy returned to Cornell, where by then Arthur had become a student too in the school of hotel management. Soon he proposed to her.
They were married at the Harborside in June of 1950 in an impressive ceremony that ended when Stephin C. Gentle flew them from the Harborside dock in his seaplane to a Provincetown honeymoon.
Their first home was in Springfield,, where Nancy's father had bought a cafetria for them to operate, but a year later they were back in Edgartown with their first child, Arthur W. Young 3rd. Nancy's husband became general assistant at the Harborside and Nancy learned the operation of the front booking office from her mother. She would remain there until her retirement in the 1980's, except for a period in the 1960's when she managed the Carol Apartments that her parents also owned and today are known as Edgartown Commons. From 1968 to 1970, the Youngs also tried their hand at managing a ski resort called the Red Mill that they bought in Wilmington, Vermont.
In their early Edgartown years, the Youngs lived i what had been the old North School on Mill street and later became the Carol Club where young Island girls could play the piano, sing songs and carols (hence the name of the apartment). Later, the Youngs built their own Cape Cod house that is now part of the Edgartown Commons complex.
Recognizing that Edgartown was expanding, far-seeing Arthur Young in 1965 moved his family out to Katama and vought what was then known as the Otis Guernsey house on land that had once been Nancy's great-grandfather's farm. With five children by then, and all but two in the Edgartown School, Nancy at first was not happy with the move. But soon the view of Katama Bay from the house they had bought won her over and she saw her husband's perspicacity.
Though it took awhile for the Young children - like their mother - to develope a liking for Katama because it was so far out of town, it did provide opportunities for happy family beach parties. These were gala occasions on South Beach and Chappaquiddick for which their mother produced crispy fried chiken and made a special potato salad and oatmeal cookies.
Although looking after her family of six and managing the room bookings at the inn kept Nancy well occupied, she always seemed to find time to read, knit and do needlepoint and embroidery. When one of her grandsons, Phelps Compton, was two and became enamored of Thomas the Tank Engine and wanted a Thomas the Tank sweater, his grandmother tracked down on the Internet a woman in Sweden who had a pattern for it. And soon Phelps had his locomotive embellished sweater.
When her daughters were teenagers and longed for the expensive sweaters displayed in the windows of the Country Store of Concord, then on South Water street, their mother would simply look in the window, figure out what was needed in the way of yarn for the sweater and make it. Her needlepoint pillows brightened sofas and chairs all over the Katama house. In 1976, when the Youngs' daughter Deborah was married, her mother not only made her wedding dress but all of the ties for the men in the wedding party. Nancy, of course, was wooed to be a member of the Stitch and Bitch Club, a group of Island mothers in the 1950's who mended and sewed and enjoyed each other's company.
She was an indefatigable reader - especially of mysteries - and a trustee for manyyears of the Edgartown Public Library. In retirement, she was sometimes known to read as many as three books a day. She and her cousin, the late Maurita Prada, would vie over which of them read the most books in a week.
Along with mysteries, poetry was a passion - enough so that Nancy began writing it herself. She was also a trustee and devoted volunteer at the Dukes County Historical Society (now the Martha's Vineyard Museum), editing for the society periodical The Intelligencer and putting 19th-century Island census reports on the computer.
Almost as soon as personal computers were on the market, Nancy Young was learning how to use them to advantage. At the inn, she replaced the colored tape on the room board with a computer that kept track of registrations. In recent months, after she had discovered that she was suffering from cancer and was staying at the susan Bailis Assisted Living Facility in boston to be near Beth Israel Hospital, she was enthusiastically instructing fellow residents in computer use. She also kept in close touch with friends and family through e-mail.
Animals were another one of her enthusiasms and she was at the top of the list when the Animal Rescue League or later, the MSPCA in Edgartown needed to have a dog or cat rescued. Attilla the Honey was a Newfoundland that she resued, as was Ami, a Brittany spaniel. The Young family also at various times has a St. Bernard, appropiately named Escoffier, and a retroodle named Sam. At one time there were 17 Siamese cats in the Young menagerie. In recent years, as Nancy grew older, the dogs grew smaller. MacDoig, a Yorkshire terrier (named after her husband's mother, Isabel Doig) and Viva the Diva, a Chihuahua, could easily sit on her lap when she read or could be carried about.
Although she had left college to be married, Nancy Convery Young was continually learning. When the Nathan Mayhew Siminars opened on the Vineyard, she quickly enrolled. For some years after their children were grown, the Youngs wintered on Long Key in the Bahames where Arthur Young could indulge his passion for fishing, but later they spent 15 winters in Florence, Italy, where Nancy became proficient in Italian - so proficient, that when she took her longtime friend Marianne Thomas to Italy a few years ago, she was frequently mistaken for an Italian.
Arthur Young suffered a stroke at their Florence apartment in 1995 and was confined to a wheelchair agter that. Winters then were spent in Jupiter and Tequesta, Florida, until his death in 2003.
After Arthur's death, Nancy bought a condominium near the Intercoastal Waterway at Juno Beach. On the Vineyard, she had supported and worked at the community Services Thrift Ship in Vineyard Haven. In Florida, similarly she became a Hospice Thrift Ship volunteer. She enrolled in Lifetime Learning classes, studying literature and learning about opera.
She also began to travel more extensively than she had during her marriage.
With her sister in law, Dorothy Abelsonand her husband, Stanley, both music buffs - she visited Vienna and Prague and Havana to attend operas. Although she never failed to enjoy her foreign experiences, Nancy Prada Convery Young was always - first and foremost - a proud fifth-generation Vineyarder. She encouraged her children to cherish their Portuguese heritage. She had made several trips to Portugal and had learned a little Portuguese. To make sure that the Island's ancient ways remained open to all, she would take the children on walks along one or another of them each year to assure that they would not be closed to the public.
Despite her illness, she was able to return home to Katama for two weeks in July. She visited with friends, made sure that the chinese pagoda tree she had helped plant in front of the Edgartown Library was not being injured by new construction, enjoyed a family clambake, shopped a little and went to dinner at the Harborview Hotel and the Edgartown Yacht Club, where she had long been a member.
She is survived by her brother, Leo P. Convery of Edgartown; two sisters, Marjorie Convery of Hudson, Florida and Jane C. Brown of Mashpee; five children, Arthur W. Young 3rd of Hingham, Deborah Prada Young of Haverhill and Constance Compton of Norwell; and nine grandchilren.
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