Joseph B. Gonsalves Jr.


Joseph B. Gonsalves Jr. of Fairhaven and Oak Bluffs died unexpectedly on Tuesday, December 11, at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford. He was 77.

Joe, as he was known, was the oldest son of Joseph and Evelyn (Silvia) Gonsalves. Born in Oak Bluffs at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, he grew up in the Vineyard Haven neighborhood of Pine Street and Midland Avenue where his large extended family resided. After graduating from the Tisbury School he joined the Navy, serving in Companies 455 and 456 on the USS Sumner in the Korean War. Later he travelled around the world.

In 1962 he married Mildred Rocker. With their three daughters, they lived on Lobsterville Road in Aquinnah. During the summer months, Joe would love to have family and friends over for cookouts. His nieces and nephews would come up on weekends to enjoy the beach. On Sundays he would load them up into his boat and cruise Menemsha Pond.

While living in Aquinnah he was a police officer working nights, and during the day he would go scalloping with his wife and father-in-law, Norman Smalley. He did plumbing and heating with the late Bill Ryan.

Joe and his family lost everything to a house fire on a cold January night, but he managed to get his wife and kids out safely.

Joe and Mildred then bought a house on Vineyard Haven on Summer Street. He was so happy to be in the family neighborhood. He and Mildred then had three sons. Their house was always filled with children. Joe loved to host parties. Always laughing and joking, he was often the life of the party. He loved to dance and go bowling and deer hunting. He would invite his friends from Mashpee over to hunt the woods of Chilmark and Aquinnah. He was a devoted Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox fan.

Joe was a hard-working man who often held two jobs down to provide for his family. He was a chef with his wife and father at the Dunes Restaurant (now Winnetu) in Katama and the Tisbury Inn (now Zephrus). He worked for his Uncle Sonny (T.M.Silvia Plumbing and Heating) as a plumber’s assistant. He later started his own plumbing and heating business, employing his sons.

He was manager and bartender at the VFW Post 9261, where he remained a member. He was a volunteer firefighter for the town of Tisbury. He was a police officer in Tisbury, after retiring as a sargeant from the Aquinnah police department. As a deputy sheriff, he worked as a jailkeeper at the Dukes County Jail.

He was a member of the Portugeuse-American Club in Oak Bluffs and New Bedford, and the AMVETS and VFW of New Bedford and Fairhaven.

He was very passionate about spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren. He and Mildred adopted and raised Miguel and Lindsey Gonsalves. He loved to rough-house with the boys, and he treated the girls like little princesses. To all of them, he was “Papa.”

Joe was predeceased by his former wife, Mildred, his son Anthony Gonsalves and his daughter Evelyn Larkin.

He is survived by his brother, Bernard Gonsalves of Miami, Fla.; his sister, Doris, and her family of Fairhaven; his daughter Margaret Oliveira and her husband, David, and daughter, Alicia; his late daughter Evelyn’s husband, Joe Larkin, and their sons John and Phillip of Lynn; his daughter Yvette Turner and her husband, Mark, and their children, Sarah, Mark, and Christian; his son Joseph and his wife, Rosalind, and their children Jordan, Hannah, and Matthew; his late son Anthony’s children, Nicholas of Harwich and Carly Rose of New Bedford; his son John and his children, Amanda and Ryan; and his companion, Susan Barker of Fairhaven.

A visitation will be held on Thursday, December 13, from 6 to 8 pm in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs. His funeral mass will be celebrated on Friday, December 14, at 11 am in St. Augustine’s Church, Franklin Street, Vineyard Haven followed by burial in the Oak Grove Cemetery, State Road, Vineyard Haven with full military honors offered by the Veterans of Martha’s Vineyard. Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole & Gleason,

Family and friends will gather at the Portuguese-American Club, Vineyard Ave, Oak Bluffs following the service. Please bring a dish to share.