Joseph Chester Cressy Jr. died peacefully in Falmouth on Wednesday, May 4, surrounded by family. He was 82.
Joe was born in Beverly to Joseph Chester and Helen Calhoun Cressy and was the second of four children. He was educated at Beverly High School, Yale University, and Boston University School of Law. He enlisted in the United States Coast Guard at the start of the Korean War, and continued to serve as a Reservist, retiring after 19 years with the rank of commander.
Upon graduation from law school, Joe joined the law firm of Choate, Hall, and Stuart as a junior partner. He went on to serve as chief counsel for Keystone Custodial Funds. In the late 1960s, Joe started his private practice on State Street in Boston, eventually moving it to Martha’s Vineyard.
Joe was a devoted family man and public servant. While raising his children in Weston, he was involved in the community and served on the boards of the Weston Forest and Trails Association and the Conservation Commission.
After moving to Chappaquiddick in 1982, Joe became increasingly involved in Island organizations. He served on the Marine Advisory Committee, was a shellfish warden for Edgartown, auxiliary policeman on Chappy and captain of Fire Engine 3 from 1987 to 2002. He loved his light bar atop his pickup truck, representing both the police and fire responsibilities that he carried. Deeply concerned about community and preservation, he was most proud of his involvement in the founding of the Chappaquiddick Community Center, serving as president and working to establish Edgartown Harbor as the first zoned harbor in the country.
Throughout his life, Joe was active in many associations, including the Society of Colonial Wars, The Trustees of Reservations, the Norfolk Hunt Club, Fly Casters, Felix Neck, and the Scottish Society of Martha’s Vineyard. A life-long sportsman and outdoorsman, he was an avid sailor, skier, fisherman, and hunter. He loved to fly, and earned his pilot’s license in 1993 at the age of 65.
As much as he loved all aspects of his life, Joe’s greatest passion was the sea. As a young boy he would ride his bicycle from Beverly to Gloucester to watch the fishing schooners come and go. He cofounded the Jubilee Yacht Club in Beverly while in high school. Joe was a successful competitor racing in 210’s, 505’s, and cruising class boats. A life-long sailor, he could be seen every summer sailing the waters off the Vineyard on his yacht Halcyon.
Joe is predeceased by siblings Louise and James. He leaves behind his brother Norman Cressy of Marblehead; his beloved wife of 57 years, Mary Dickson; three daughters, Lee B. Fernandez and her husband, Justo, of Brookfield; Nina P. Bishop and her husband, Jude, of South Stratford, Vt.; and Holly D. Cressy-Davis and her husband, Robert, of Falmouth; five grandchildren, Eric Fernandez, Nicholas and Katherine Bishop, Ryan and Cooper Davis; and many nieces, nephews, and grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
A memorial service will be held on May 21 at 1:30 in the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. Following the service there will be a procession from the church to the Edgartown Fire Station where the reception will take place. Transportation will be available for those unable to make the walk. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Chappaquiddick Community Center or the Edgartown Fire Department Fund. To offer a condolence or share a memory, visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com. The site will also offer travel information for anyone attending the service from off-Island.