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2017 Creative Living Award: Dunkl Siblings

Sep. 14, 2027

Dunkl Siblings
Photo: Vineyard Gazette

The Endowment is delighted to announce that siblings Frank, Heidi, and Peter Dunkl of Chilmark will receive this year’s Creative Living Award. Designed to “encourage fine craftsmanship, creativity and ingenuity in many fields,” the award recognizes Islanders for their efforts to “enhance and preserve the quality of life on the Vineyard forever.”

Small of stature but oversized in intelligence and determination, the Dunkls opted for self-schooling over higher education after high school in New Rochelle, N.Y. They used libraries and first-hand observation to feed their curiosity, developing a broad portfolio of skills in the process. In 1971 they moved to their 23-acre property in Chilmark full-time.

Before long they became known by home-owners and contractors as folks to turn to for unusual fabrications — in wood, metal, almost any material. Their distinctive and enduring gates, walkways, benches, and arbors pop up surprisingly on many properties, both public and private, around the Island.

Describing their various abilities to Martha’s Vineyard Magazine in 2009, Frank said, “We can create a beam from timber, redo the bearing on an old motor, make and repair stained-glass window. We’ll repair an antique clock, do stone masonry, put in a well, make a custom window sash. Anything you want, we can do it.”

What’s more, the threesome founded and ran Chilmark Spring Water for many years, using a virgin spring they tapped along the banks of Mill Brook, which runs through their property.

Ever resourceful, creative, and hard-working, the Dunkls would surely have appealed to Ruth Bogan, whose initial gift in 1983 helped create the Endowment. Ms. Bogan was known as “a gallant woman who loved beauty, who loved the Vineyard, and who believed ‘anyone can do anything.’ She could fix anything, cope with any emergency, and she met every problem as a challenge to be confronted with courage and intelligence.”

A celebration of the Dunkls and the presentation of the Creative Living Award will be held on Tuesday November 28th at the PA Club.

Many thanks to Whit Griswold for the above.