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Isabel Spear Hefner, Longtime East Hampton Star Ad Manager

Mon, 07/03/2023 - 12:37

Isabel Spear Hefner passed away peacefully at her home in Amagansett on June 21 after a long encounter with breast cancer, surrounded by her family.

Min, as she was known, was born on Feb. 11, 1954, in Islip to John and Isabel Spear. In 1956 the family moved to East Hampton. She attended East Hampton High School. After graduating from Connecticut College, she returned and in 1983 began working at The East Hampton Star. As advertising manager until her retirement in 2020, Min was proud to represent the quality and integrity of the Star.

In 1984 she married Robert Hefner, who was beginning a career in historic preservation. They enjoyed 39 years together. Min’s love of East Hampton and her deep-seated appreciation of our simple and elegant historic buildings supported Bob in his work. Min especially loved the Amagansett Life-Saving Station, which she passed by nearly every morning while walking her dog Spot. Min had planted the seed during a conversation on the Cross Sound Ferry that grew to see the Station preserved and returned to its original site.

Sailing was a big part of her entire life, beginning at an early age accompanying her father, racing and cruising on his Aage Nielsen sloop Butterfly. Min and Bob sailed a series of classic boats beginning with the SS class sloop Anne Gayrestored by Bob, a Nathaniel Herreshoff Buzzard Bay 12 ½-foot class, the Prudence class sloop Lively and Rozinante ketch Patience, both by L. Francis Herreshoff, and on her final summer the magnificent Cirrus, a 1939 Sparkman & Stephens / Nevins sloop. Cirrus was the boat she loved most and that gave her the greatest sailing joy of her life. 

Being near oceans and coastal waters was an imperative for Min. Vacations were to the Siasconset cottage Shanunga on Nantucket, to St. Barths before its notoriety and to coastal Maine.

Min and Bob built their home in a field on Town Lane in Amagansett. Over three decades they created a place that nurtured deep happiness with a large orchard of heirloom apples, peaches and cherries and an overflowing berry patch of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and currants. On their porch overlooking a pastoral heaven Min loved to host family dinners and cookouts.

Daily walks with her succession of Windermere Farm Jack Russell Terriers (Toby, Kip, Jack and Spot) were a cherished time. 

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Hefner leaves a sister and brother-in-law, Kay and Eric Gibson of East Hampton, and a niece and nephew, John and Anne Gibson of New York. 

Mrs. Hefner was cremated; her family plans to scatter her ashes in Gardiner’s Bay from her beloved Cirrus. The family has suggested memorial donations to the Amagansett Life-Saving & Coast Guard Station, online at

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