Posted March 16, 2006

Gerard Coulombe
Gerard Coulombe, 83, died March 7 at home in Vineyard Haven. He was predeceased by his wife, Rita O. (Labarre) Coulombe.

Gerry was born near Three Rivers, Canada, on January 10, 1923, the son of Origene and Leona (Ethier) Coulombe.

He enlisted in the United States Marines before World War II and was one of the first to be sent overseas. He remained there until the end of the war.

When Mr. Coulombe returned he moved to Martha's Vineyard and worked for the Steamship Authority as a mechanic for almost 40 years.

Surviving him are his siblings, Laurier, Maurice, Donald, Wilfrid, Roland, Roger, Annette Phenix, Yvette Fenton, Rita Dupont, and Therese Phenix, and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brothers Lionel, Romeo, Lucien, Jean-Marie, Richard, and his sisters Lucille Lafrance and Marie-Ange Ledoux.

His graveside service was held on March 11 in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven officiated by the Rev. Michael Nagle with military honors provided by the Martha's Vineyard Veterans.

Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit for online guest book and information.

Robert E. Rohr
Bob Rohr, 91, grew up in his mother's restaurant in Westport, Conn., and he grew old working as Massachusetts' oldest EMT, retiring at 81. In between, Mr. Rohr was a biochemist, a magician, a war hero, an insurance agent, an entrepreneur, a boat builder, and a 33rd Degree Mason.

Born on March 27, 1915 in Lewiston, Maine, Mr. Rohr was raised in Westport, Conn. by his mother, the proprietress of the Hidden Door restaurant. He worked his way through Bowdoin College in Maine by teaching tennis and golf, and graduated with a degree in biology in 1937.

A week after Pearl Harbor was bombed, Mr. Rohr and his brother Joe enlisted as ensigns in the United States Navy. Joe was killed within a year when his ship was torpedoed in the North Atlantic. Mr. Rohr volunteered for Underwater Demolition Team service, rising to the rank of Lt. Commander by the end of the war.

As a Navy Frogman, Mr. Rohr trained by swimming up to 20 miles a day, and planted explosives on Pacific islands to destroy shoreline obstructions. One of these explosives detonated prematurely, breaking his back. He spent six months in a military hospital. This was Mr. Rohr's second close call in the Navy, after being bitten by a deadly fer-de-lance viper while leading a rescue mission for a downed navy pilot in Panama. Fortunately, a navy medic in the search party was carrying anti-venom.

In 1945, Mr. Rohr met Phyllis Hammerstrom at a USO- sponsored dance. They married in 1946 and went on to have two daughters and four sons. Mr. Rohr worked as an insurance agent in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts before purchasing the Martha's Vineyard Insurance Agency in 1967 and moving the family to Martha's Vineyard. Mr. and Mrs. Rohr had spent their honeymoon on the Island.

Mr. Rohr was an avid sailor, sailing the New England coast in a racing sloop with his wife and six children every summer. He spent many years building a 50-foot ferro-cement ketch named Liontalk between the gas tanks in Vineyard Haven.

Mr. Rohr was involved in many social, religious, and charitable organizations over his long life. He was a devoted member of Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven, and was senior warden of the church for many years. He served Martha's Vineyard as an EMT until 81 years of age, becoming the oldest active EMT in Massachusetts. Mr. Rohr served as a school committee member and chairman. He also served as Tax Assessor in Vineyard Haven for many years. He was active in the management and fundraising of Camp Jabberwocky and served on their board of directors. Mr. Rohr was the treasurer of Havenside Elderly Housing for decades, and could frequently be seen with tools in hand performing maintenance on the buildings. He was a member and past president of the Old Colony Club in Plymouth. He was a 33rd Degree Mason. He also served on the boards of several companies, including the Dukes County Savings Bank.

Mr. Rohr is survived by six children: Susan of North Carolina, Bruce of Canton, Joe of Pembroke, Chris of Hawaii, Bill of Needham, and Elizabeth of West Tisbury. He is also survived by six grandchildren and one great- grandchild. There will be a memorial service at The Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs, Saturday, March 18 at 1:30 pm.

Wallace S. Pinkham
Wallace S. Pinkham of Vineyard Haven died early on March 7 at his home. He was 64.

He was the married to Cheryl J. (Worden) Pinkham for 40 years.

He was a lifelong Island resident. He was born in Oak Bluffs, the son of Wallace S. Pinkham and Esther P. Daggett.

Wally was graduated from the Tisbury High School in 1959 and worked briefly on course maintenance at Mink Meadows Golf Course. He left the Island to enlist in the United States Army in 1960. He was stationed overseas in France where he excelled in mechanics and was honorably discharged in 1963 as a specialist fourth grade.

After returning to Martha's Vineyard, his beloved home, he worked for Renear Ford Car Dealership in Vineyard Haven until the late 1960s. When he decided to build his house he worked for Island Construction to gain enough knowledge to build it himself. In 1970 he started working for DeSorcy Construction and this working relationship lasted for more than 35 years.

Wally enjoyed boating and fishing and puttering around his yard; he was never without something to do or fix.

He is survived by his wife, Cheryl Pinkham; his mother, Esther Pinkham of Vineyard Haven; his son, Glenn Pinkham of Vineyard Haven; his daughter, Lori Pinkham of Vineyard Haven and her fiancé Kyle Amaral; and his grandchildren, Desmond and Silas Pinkham, and Riley, Zander, and Kylee Amaral.

His funeral service was held in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs on March 10, officiated by the Rev. Arlene Bodge. Burial was in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven. Donations may be made in his memory to the Vineyard Nursing Association, P.O. Box 2568, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Visit for online guest book and information.

Benjamin P. Lowers
Benjamin P. Lowers of Mantua, N.J. died on March 10. He was 82. Born and raised in Oil City, Pa., Ben graduated from Oil City High School in 1941. He also received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Clarkson University, as well as a master's degree in soil mechanics from the University of Michigan. Ben was a veteran of the United States Navy serving during World War II on the Naval Destroyer Escort Solar. He was a member of Destroyer Escort Sailor Association of New Jersey.

Ben was a Licensed Professional Engineer. For many years, he was the Eastern Regional Manager/Assistant Vice President for Raymond Concrete Pile Co. in New York. After retiring, Ben continued to work as the Eastern Division Manager for DYWIDAG Systems International in Lincoln Park, N.J.

For the past 10 years, Ben was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Woodbury Heights, where he was active with the "Prime Timers." He was also a Mason with the Racquet River Masonic Lodge # 213 in Canton, N.Y.

In his spare time, he enjoyed traveling, which included touring through South America and cruising to the Artic Circle. He was an avid amateur sailor and enjoyed sailing off Martha's Vineyard. Ben also enjoyed collecting fine clocks.

Ben will be remembered for his strong work ethic in his profession, as well as at home with his family. He truly enjoyed tackling the challenges of any task.

He was the beloved husband for 58 years of Betty Jane (nee Allgaier); devoted father of Nancy Lowers of Hamden, Conn., Amy (Stephen) Maurer of Bexley, Ohio, and Allison (Charles) O'Loughlin of Merchantville, N.J.; loving grandfather of seven; and dear brother of Horace R. Lowers of Huntsville, Ala.

Funeral services were held on March 14 at the First Presbyterian Church of Woodbury Heights, Woodbury Heights, N.J. Interment will be Thursday, March 16, at 2 pm in Hillside Cemetery, South Weare, N.H.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Habitat for Humanity of Gloucester County, Inc., 305 S. Broadway, Pitman, NJ 08071 or Heifer International, 216 Wachusett St., Rutland, MA 01543.

Arrangements by Mcguinness Funeral Home, Woodbury, N.J. Tributes and memories may be shared at

James K. Silva Sr.
James "Jim" Kenneth Silva Sr., of Wareham formerly of West Tisbury died at Tobey Hospital on March 3 after a brief illness. He was 79. He was born on the Island on Dec. 30, 1926, son of Antone L. and Clara (Fernandes) Silva. He attended Tisbury schools and graduated from Tisbury High School. He later joined the United States Army and when he returned he became a land surveyor on Martha's Vineyard and later a fisherman. He was employed by the Steamship Authority as a dock hand.

He enjoyed music, fishing, and collecting antique bottles.

He is survived by daughters Barbara Brown of Hyannis, and Paulette Silva of Long Island, N.Y.; son James K. Silva Jr., of Hyannis; brothers Arthur Silva of Oak Bluffs, Ralph Silva of New Bedford, and Edmund Silva of New Jersey; sister Clarice Rogers of Boston; grandchildren Jason Brown, Travis Brown, Anthony Silva, and Gabrielle Andersen. He was predeceased by brothers Antone L. Silva Jr., Robert Silva; sisters Frances Fernandes, Alice Medina, and Lorraine Tuttle.

A memorial Mass was held on March 11 at St. Rita's Church in Marion. Burial will be at a later date in Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven. Arrangements by Wareham Village Funeral Home.

Joseph B. Robichau Jr.
Joseph Benjamin Robichau, Jr., a longtime Island resident, died on March 6 at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital. Joseph was married to Betty L. (Doubtfire) Robichau. Joe attained the age of 101.

Born in Beverly on May 23, 1904, he was the son of Joseph B. and Elizabeth (Thebado) Robichau. He was graduated from Beverly High School in 1923 and worked at United Shoe Machine Company and for the YMCA, where he started his lifelong love for community. He was still active for the Greater Boston area YMCA's.

He received his bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University in Medford in 1933. Soon afterwards he was called to Martha's Vineyard to open the Edgartown Boys' Club and also to begin his career teaching English at the Edgartown High School. He was also the renowned coach of the basketball team and won the Cape and Islands Championship in 1941, the first ever for the Vineyard.

At the high school is where he met his wife and in 1946 they were married and in June. This year they would have celebrated their 60th anniversary. Together they opened Camp Wintucket on the Great Pond of Edgartown which closed in the late 1960s.

Joe went on to teach at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School and to become the vice-principal and chairman of the English Department. He had an active life in the community of Edgartown, being the town moderator, serving on the board of selectmen, and was a lifetime deacon of the Federated Church. Joe was also the director of the Massachusetts Teacher's Association for the Island and member of the Oriental-Martha's Vineyard Masonic Lodge.

Joe is survived by his wife, Betty Robichau; and his son, Joseph B. Robichau III both of Edgartown; and his two grandsons, John Robichau and Joseph B. "JB" Robichau IV both of Edgartown and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brother, Harvey S. Robichau and his sister, Irene Ball.

There was a prayer service for Joe on Thursday evening during the visiting hours in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs officiated by Rev. Jerry Fritz with a Masonic service by the Oriental-Martha's Vineyard Lodge. His burial was private in the New Westside Cemetery in Edgartown.

A memorial service will be scheduled for a later date in the Federated Church in Edgartown.

Donations may be made in his memory to the Federated Church, steeple fund, P.O. Box 249, Edgartown MA 02539; the YMCA of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 881, Vineyard Haven MA 02568, or the Boys and Girls Club of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 654, Edgartown MA 02539. Visit for online guest book and information.

Grace E. Smith
Grace Eveline Smith died on March 10. She was born on July 19, 1929 in Winchester, the daughter of Dr. Antonio Luigi Tauro and Dr. Emily Cooper Tauro. Grace grew up in Stoneham, and graduated from Stoneham High School. She recently attended her 57th high school class reunion.

Grace attended Boston University and Katharine Gibbs Academy. She married Lloyd P. Smith of Medford, and they had two sons, Tony and Arthur.

Grace moved to Martha's Vineyard in 1975 and has lived in Aquinnah, Edgartown, and Tisbury. While living on the Island Grace loved participating in many activities. She held many positions including: Gay Head Zoning Board of Appeals, Tisbury Senior Center Director, Tisbury Council on Aging, Eastern Star Worthy Matron, Rotary Club, Tisbury Legion Auxiliary, and the Red Cross Blood Drive. In addition she was a Deacon of the First Baptist Church in Vineyard Haven.

Grace had many accomplishments during her life. In her younger days she was an accomplished figure skater. She obtained her private pilot's license, and recently was learning to play the piano. Inspired by her granddaughter Elizabeth, Grace had recently begun writing children's stories.

Most of all Grace loved and was devoted to her family. As Grace died she was surrounded by her family at her home on Hines Point in Tisbury. She is survived by her two children and five grandchildren.

Her funeral service was held on Monday, March 13 in the First Baptist Church in Vineyard Haven officiated by Rev. Roger Spinney. Donations may be made in her memory to the First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 2787, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568. Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit for online guest book and information.

Glen Harcourt
Glen Harcourt, 40, died unexpectedly on Feb. 23 in Colorado. There will be a short ceremony at the Katama Airfield, 12 Mattakesett Way, Edgartown, on Saturday, March 18 at 3 pm followed by a celebration of Glen's life at the home of Gary and Kathryn Harcourt. A full obituary will appear in a future edition of The Times.

Ruth G. Letourneau
Ruth G. Letourneau of Woodside Village in Oak Bluffs died on March 13 at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital surrounded by her family. Her memorial service will be held at the Woodside Village II Community Room, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs, on Friday, March 17, at 11 am. Please call Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home or visit for online guest book and information. A full obituary will appear in a future edition of The Times.

Jay Fleishman
Jay Fleishman of Chilmark died in his home on March 3. Born in Boston on March 24, 1930, Jay's life ended near where it began. Nevertheless during the intervening years he traveled far from Massachusetts, only settling on the Vineyard 10 years ago.

Born to Sylvia and Robert Fleishman, Jay attended the Boston Latin School and later graduated from MIT with a bachelor's degree in architecture. Following graduation he continued his architectural studies in Milan where he developed one of the five great loves of his life.

These five loves could be distinguished as a slight obsession with all things Italian, a tireless conquest to tame the wilderness of his much-loved Chilmark property, an unwavering passion to transform the purposeful lines of his drawings into elegant buildings, and of course his friends and family. Jay constantly pursued these loves with great delight, leaving those he knew with a pleasant aftertaste of a life thoroughly lived.

On his return from Italy, Jay taught architecture at Cooper Union in New York City. Next he began his work at various architectural firms in the city, ending with HLW where he became a partner. At HLW Jay designed numerous buildings for banks and other businesses while still making time to pursue his home designs. Jay retired in 1995 and lived a year in Italy with his family. Moving to the Vineyard in 1996, he built an addition to his home in Chilmark, finally completing the house he had imagined but only started 30 years earlier.

Living on the Vineyard Jay continued to fill his life with projects, perfecting the underbrush creeping into his hand-dug pond, working at the Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center (where he also served as vice president), assisting with various building designs on the Island, as well as becoming an involved member on several boards and committees in Chilmark. Although recently Jay had become less active, only a few weeks ago he could still be spotted wandering the woods trimming the briars with his red clippers.

Described by many as a Renaissance man, Jay's intellect, insight, support, innovation, energy, and humor will be greatly missed by all, especially his sister Ellen, his wife Martha, and his two daughters, Nina and Giulia.

Jay's burial and service took place in Chilmark on March 5, followed by a celebration of his life at the Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center. Donations may be made in his name to Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 or the American Institute of Architects, 1735 New York Ave., NW Washington, DC 20006-5292.

Arrangements were under the care of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit for online guest book and information.