Henry Beetle Hough, 88, who earned a national reputation as the salty editor of the weekly Vineyard Gazette on Martha's Vineyard, died Thursday at his home here. The cause of death was not reported.

Mr. Hough, editor of the Gazette since 1920 and its former owner, battled to protect the island from the inroads of modern society.

He sold the newspaper in 1968 to James B. Reston but continued to write editorials until a month ago, taking on such opponents as McDonald's, which wanted to open a fast-food restaurant on the island, and singer Carly Simon, a resident, who opened a disco-nightclub at the Edgartown airport.

Mr. Hough and his wife, Elizabeth Bowie Hough, coedited and copublished the paper until her death in 1965.

"There were no rewards financially for years and years," he said six years ago. "The rewards were doing what we damn well pleased."

In 1940, he told his story in the book, "Country Editor," the first of 24 volumes of fiction and nonficiton.

"Weekly newspapers are a sustained chronicle of the life which they report and represent," Mr. Hough once wrote. "Most often the best front page stuff is actually typical rather than violently exceptional, a respect in which the weekly newspaper differs radically from the daily."

He was born in New Bedford Nov. 8, 1896, the son of George A. Hough and Abby Louise Beetle Hough, daughter of a Martha's Vineyard whaling captain. As a boy, he lived in New Bedford, but vacationed on Martha's Vineyard.

He graduated in 1918 from Columbia University's School of Journalism, where he met his wife.

In 1920, his father, the executive editor of The New Bedford Standard, gave the couple the Vineyard Gazette as wedding present.

Mr. Hough is survived by his second wife, Edith Sands Graham, whom he married in 1979, and two nephews.