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Shelter Island Reporter obituaries: Griffis, von Carp, Woods

Georgia Lee Hester Griffis

Georgia Lee Hester Griffis of Shelter Island died peacefully at home on Jan. 24 at the age of 90 surrounded by family.

Born in Chicago on Sept. 29, 1932, she is the daughter of Arthur Hester of Warren, Ark. and Lois Hester of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

She is survived by her loving husband Roderick Lynn Griffis, along with her three children, Ian, Melora and Kate, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Georgia was raised with her sister Joy, in Glenview, Ill. and developed an early talent for acting, performing radio drama in Chicago as a young girl. She attended Lawrence University in Wisconsin where she played Joan in “Joan of Arc.”

She was admitted to Yale Drama School with a full scholarship but chose to study with Sydney Pollack in New York City until he was drafted, at which time she attended Charles Conrad’s class, where she met Rod who became her acting partner, and eventual husband.

They were best friends for three years until a scripted first kiss that was part of a scene changed everything. The young couple worked as actors in Sarasota, Fla., New York City, Hollywood, Provincetown, and then moved to Buffalo where they purchased the Studio Theatre School and founded The Courtyard Theatre.

Rod and Georgia lived with their family above the theatre and Georgia made dinner for the audience before going backstage to get into costume. Following the sale of the theatre to the University of Buffalo, Georgia and Rod moved their family to Montclair, N.J. where Georgia worked as an actress regionally and did several plays with Olympia Dukakis at The Whole Theatre Company.

She became head of the drama department of the Morristown Beard School and got her masters in Theatre Education from NYU. Georgia was a member of Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild.

In 1989 the couple moved to Shelter Island, sailing their 32-foot sailboat from Lake Erie, in Canada, through the Erie canal to the Hudson River, south around Manhattan Island and up the East River to Long Island Sound. They dropped anchor and lived on the boat for several weeks until their house closing.

Georgia served on the board of the Menantic Peninsula Association and acted in plays on the North and South forks. She often read at performances at the Shelter Island Library and regularly participated in “Letters from the Vault” at the Shelter Island Historical Society. Along with her husband Roderick, Georgia supported Shelter Island Friends of Music, the Shelter Island Library, and the building of the town playground. Georgia has been a vital member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, serving on the vestry and taking part in major events, as well as bringing the Alpha program to the church and several theater performances to services over the years.

Rod and Georgia have been together for 67 years sharing their love for each other, and for the arts, sailing, family, good friends, beautiful food and conversation, and their strong faith in God.

Georgia loved to read and was known for her pristine memory for people’s names, places, and detail — she had an ability to recite lyrics, sonnets and poetry and narrate ordinary-life occurrences into interesting stories filled with humor, and observation. Georgia will be sorely missed by her family and many friends.

Funeral services will be held at St. Mary’s Church, on February 11 at 2 p.m. . In lieu of flowers donations can be made to St Mary’s Church. www.stmarysshelterisland.org/donate

Hermann Erich Friederich von Carp Jr. 

Major Hermann Erich Friederich von Carp Jr., USMC retired, was born in New York City on April 7, 1935, to Hermann von Carp Sr., originally of Buch, Germany, and Estelle Crook von Carp, of New York and Shelter Island. Her family had lived on Shelter Island since before the Revolutionary War.

Erich graduated Concordia Preparatory School in Bronxville, N.Y., where he lettered in football and track.

Shelter Island was his heart’s home, and the people of Shelter Island were his family. Erich was an avid sailor, first with the Shelter Island Yacht Club. He won the Eastern Long Island junior sailing championship. In the 1960s, he raced his sloop Esperanto with the San Diego Yacht Club’s six-meter fleet, alongside future America’s Cup winner Dennis Conner.

Erich helmed Esperanto to a Lipton Cup victory. He was also a member of the Catboat Association.

Erich attended the University of Tennessee, but dropped out to enlist in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, in 1953. The Corps assigned him to a reserve unit and ordered him to complete his education. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering after that war ended, he was commissioned a lieutenant. In the Philippines, he led an engineering unit that built a highway through the interior highlands.

Those mountainous jungles were inhabited by tribes feared as head hunters. Erich remembered those tribesmen fondly, trading with them and sharing local beverages around evening fires.

As a captain, Erich served at the Pentagon. He traveled to Marine Corps bases inspecting logistics and supply. After being called in to work early on a Saturday morning, he was tasked to help prepare for the still-secret invasion of Vietnam.

He returned to the infantry and landed with the Marines in 1965 and led long-range combat patrols. He was wounded in combat in Vietnam. On one occasion he was shot in the leg, but refused helicopter evacuation in order to march with his troops back to base. He was promoted to the rank of major in Vietnam.

Later, Major von Carp served as a military attaché to the commandant of the Thai Marine Corps. He attended a party hosted by the King of Thailand for the U.S. Marine Corps birthday, at which the king played saxophone.

Later, Major von Carp was an instructor at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, Calif. There he met his wife, Linda (Clark) Macon. Her father was Lt. Golland Lee Clark, USMC, who had posthumously won a Silver Star for combat on Corregidor. Gen. Lowell English had served with Lt. Clark in World War II, and introduced the couple.

In the 1970s, Major von Carp studied at the Naval Postgraduate School near Monterey, Calif, where he earned a Master of Science degree in financial management.

Subsequently, he served at Headquarters Marine Corps as comptroller for the Navy and Marine Corps’ research and development budget. He operated one of the first IBM computers outside of a laboratory. He retired from the Corps in 1977 after 24 years of service and returned to his beloved Shelter Island to care for his ill parents.

An Eagle Scout, he led the Island’s Boy Scout troop and he volunteered on the Red Cross ambulance as an EMT.

Erich von Carp was a devoted father and grandfather. He is survived by his son, Fritz (Hermann III), daughter-in-law Marie, and grandson Erich (Hermann IV), who live on Shelter Island.

Kenneth J. Woods

Kenneth J. Woods of Shelter Island died on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. He was 87 years old.

The family will receive friends on Friday, Feb. 3 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the DeFriest-Grattan Shelter Island Funeral Home.

The Liturgy of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday morning, Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady of the Isle Roman Catholic Church on Shelter Island, officiated by Father Peter DeSanctis.

Interment with U.S. Military Honors will follow at Our Lady of the Isle Roman Catholic Cemetery on Shelter Island.

In lieu of flowers, donations to Kids Need More (600 Albany Ave. #14, Amityville, NY 11701, KidsNeedMore.org) would be appreciated. Envelopes will also be available at the funeral home.

A complete obituary will follow.