Robert N. Flanders Jr. of Chilmark died in his home on Feb. 10. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Mildred Flanders; and two sisters, Bette Carroll and Hope Francis Bailiff. He and his wife also had five children; Laurence Flanders, Robert S. Flanders, Luisann Bollin, Frank Flanders and Carl Flanders. He was very proud to say he had 17 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren with 4 more on the way.
Bob was born on 10-15-20 in Vineyard Haven to Robert and Gladys Flanders. He joined the Chilmark Fire Department at age 15 and until his death was the longest serving firefighter in Massachusetts. During World War II he served in the United States Navy, enlisting after Pearl Harbor. As a SeaBee, which was the construction Corps of the Navy, he helped build airstrips and docks in the Azores. The SeaBee's motto was "CAN DO", that became his motto too. He would spend his spare time during the war fishing and building boats. He would use those two trades for the rest of his life.
When the war ended he came home and lived in Mattapoisett working at the Casey Boatyard of Fairhaven as a ships carpenter. He went on to build houses and in 1969 finally moved back to the Island he grew up on and loved.
Bob and his family built a home at 22 Larsen Lane in Menemsha, and he and his wife would live there together for almost 40 years. Just about any morning for the last 39 years you could see Bob driving down to the shore, opening up his shanty, getting his gear on and climbing into his boat to head out on the water. He loved the ocean and the variety of life found there. He was a protector of the environment before it was in fashion and always wished there was more common sense in the ever-increasing regulation of the fishing industry. To the locals he was always there for a bit of help or advice and sometimes he even tolerated tourists. He was kind and generous with his time and loved to tell stories of fishing trips gone by and amazing or foolish things he'd seen. He could be seen many afternoons sitting on the rock in front of his shanty, whittling all sorts of creations. The boats, birds, and boots he carved all lovingly adorn shelves and cabinets around the world.
Bob would spend his life building, crafting, creating, and giving. He will be missed dearly by his many, many friends and family.
The family wishes to thank everyone who gave of their time and energy. The love and support shown by and to our family will never be forgotten.
All are welcome to attend graveside services that will be held on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 1 pm, at Abel's Hill Cemetery followed by a memorial service at the Chilmark Community Center. After the memorial service Bob wanted us to enjoy potluck dessert together and tell stories. Any desserts that friends and family would like to bring would be appreciated.