A fishing rod and a piece of a woman’s heart went missing

Mini-junior Derby fisherman Tate Buchwald holds her boat 20.93 pound striped bass.
Photo by Albert Fischer

Mini-junior Derby fisherman Tate Buchwald holds her boat 20.93 pound striped bass.

I want to believe the fishing rod fell off Maryanne Angelone’s old silver Isuzu Rodeo. At the very least, I want to believe that whoever took the black, handmade rod from the top of her car never imagined how much it meant to Maryanne.

My guess is that they did not know that the rod was a treasured gift from Albert “Angie” Angelone to his wife and fishing partner, and that they did not know anything about the man who made that rod. Most of all, I want to believe that whoever took it, or found it will return it.

Angie was a familiar if inscrutable, retired member of the Island fishing community. He died July 29, 2006, of heart failure at the age of 67, doing what he loved to do – fish on Martha’s Vineyard.

What I learned after Angie died is that he had a legendary 21-year Secret Service career, much of it working undercover, that earned him a reputation for bravery, quick thinking, and humor.

He protected two presidents and stood tall in the face of gunfire. On September 22, 1975, during a presidential visit to San Francisco, Sara Jane Moore fired one shot from a 38-caliber pistol at President Ford.

“When she shot at the president, there were a lot of people ducking,” his friend Frank Forgione said in Angie’s obituary, “but there just happened to be a photographer that captured a picture of some people ducking and pushing the president down, and there was Angie, standing straight, looking ahead into the crowd and reaching for his weapon.”

The photograph appeared on front pages around the country.

Angie liked to make his own fishing lures — he favored the needlefish — and he made rods. He and Maryanne raised two sons, one a Marine and the other a Secret Service agent.

On Sunday morning, Maryanne and her good friend, Paula Sullivan of West Tisbury, town postmistress and Derby committee member, went to fish at Lobsterville Beach for albies and bonito. They parked at the end of the road in West Basin.

“It was more like reading the water,” Paula said in an email. “There were no bones.”

They quit around 11:30 am and returned to their cars with plans to meet at the Chilmark Store for a slice of pizza. “We were almost done eating when her face froze in horror,” Paula said. “She was staring at her car, white as a sheet. The special rod that Angie had made for her was gone from her roof rack. It had no big commercial value, just irreplaceable sentimental value.

“It was a black rod with a handmade cord-type handle with “Angelone” painted in white on it. No reel mount. Just a Penn 460 reel taped on with black electrical tape. It was more important to her than jewelry or fancy possessions. It was him, still there with her.”

Paula said her friend has been through too much in the last few years to suffer this kind of blow.

“Someone has just taken away a huge piece of her life,” she said. “I wish they knew what they really did. Just an old rod and reel? No.”

I want to believe that someone will know something and it will be returned. I know for sure I would not want Angie mad at me.

The rod can be left at any tackle shop, at The Times or at the West Tisbury Post Office, no questions asked.