From Gazette editions of February, 1987:
The Martha’s Vineyard State Forest by any other name still brings the name of Manuel F. (Manny) Correllus to the minds of most Islanders, and some of them now want the state legislature to make it official. Vineyard legislative liaison Robert Morgan said that the agriculture committee of the state house of representatives will conduct a public hearing at the state house on House Bill 336, seeking to rededicate the 4,000-acre state reservation in the name of the man who worked there for 57 years — the last 39 as superintendent. At the same hearing the committee will take up a proposal to establish an 1,800-acre well field in the State Forest. Mr. Correllus’s career at the heart of the Island began in 1930, when he came in as a laborer to what he described as a “wasteland.” In the next 20 years, he and fellow foresters — including a depression-era unit of the Civilian Conservation Corps — planted more than 400,000 trees and cleared fire lanes. By the late 1970s, the forest had a harvestable crop of wood fuel for a cut-a-cord program. Mr. Correllus is also credited with seeing the last heath hen in 1933. He fought a number of fires in his time, and also oversaw searches for downed airplanes and led nature tours for Vineyarders and visitors of all ages. In 1980, he told the Gazette: “It’s been my whole life. I love the forest and I love what I’m doing and where I’m doing it.”
The University of Nebraska football team the other day chose Vineyard Haven native Ron Brown to coach its pass catchers. People familiar with Ron Brown the person and Ron Brown the athlete — in that order — expect he’ll teach those receivers something about life.
Two of the most pleased and least surprised people are Jay Schofield, who served as basketball coach and athletic director during Mr. Brown’s four years at the regional high school, and John Rosenberg, the Brown University head coach who encouraged his young assistant to shoot for the big time.
Mr. Schofield recalled: “You could tell a long time ago that he was going places. A lot of kids here today didn’t get a chance to see Ron Brown, but he was just such a good example of what a kid can be if he sets out to do something.” Mr. Brown spent his regional high school glory days shooting hoops for Mr. Schofield’s championship basketball teams of the early 1970s, but another game propelled the son of Arthur and Pearl Brown of Pine street to an Ivy League education, a master’s degree and now the job with the Cornhuskers.
At a 1974 gathering one of the student-athletes who spoke up was Ron Brown.“I was given a certain amount of responsibility, and I learned from it,” the captain and quarterback said of football. “It also provides me with an important opportunity — college. My family can’t afford to send me to college. But because of football I’ll be able to go. I think future students should have the same opportunity.”
“He was a lot more substance than style,” Jay Schofield recalled. “If there’s one word you could use to describe Ron Brown that’s missed in a lot of athletes, it’s commitment. He knew a long time ago that you can’t eat a basketball and you can’t eat a football.”
The Wampanoag Indians of Gay Head are a tribe, now with full and formal recognition from the federal government. It took 12 long and painful years for the historic decision granting tribal status to be flashed from the nation’s capital to the Island of Martha’s Vineyard. The momentous ruling from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the U.S. Interior Department opens the way for a final settlement to the prolonged and bitter Indian land claims dispute that has left this town and its people on the ragged edge of emotion for more than a decade.
There are no losers in the federal government’s decision to reverse its earlier position last June and to grant recognition to the Gay Head Wampanoag tribe. The settlement now in prospect will leave to all sides a winning claim to a more certain future. The winners are, first and foremost, the Indians who are assured rightful claim to the Common Lands on which they base their culture, heritage, tradition, their life and existence as a tribe. The Gay Head Taxpayers Association may now look to a town free of a dispute that has clouded land title and threatened property values for far too long. And the town itself may return once again to a cohesion missing in the absence of settlement.
There is good reason to wish success to the Wampanoag Tribal Council of Gay Head in its action to recover possession from the town of 238 acres of Indian lands — the cranberry lands, the herring creek, the cliffs — all historic and a part of the priceless Indian tradition. All parties to this dispute must move quickly to settlement.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner