Brianna E. Combra of West Tisbury, an Island girl with a contagious smile and big heart, who valued her large extended family and friends and the sunrises at the Steamship Authority terminals, died Sunday, April 12, 2015, from injuries sustained in an early-morning automobile accident on her way to work. She was 24.
For the past five years she worked for the Steamship Authority. It was a natural job for her, because she liked people. The early shift provided a special bonus. She loved to post early-morning pictures to her Facebook page. “The view alone makes it worth coming to work so early in the morning,” she said.
On Monday, in a thoughtful gesture, the Steamship Authority lowered its flags to half-staff in her memory. “She loved her job,” said Bridget Tobin, longtime SSA terminal manager. “She was a little shy, but the truck drivers and the boat crews loved her. The Island is a small place, and a lot of them had watched her grow since she was a little girl.”
Brianna Combra was born on June 11, 1990, to Tekla Silva and Russell Combra. She attended Oak Bluffs Elementary School, and graduated from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 2008.
In a collective statement, her former teachers said, “Brianna was a beautiful girl who had a heart of gold. She was an intelligent, tenacious learner with a beautiful spirit, and even when life handed her challenges, she always had a smile on her face.”
Brianna loved her family, and valued her solid Island roots and spending time with friends. She also loved long walks with her dog, Tito, whom she adored.
She could also be a very generous friend. When a good friend found herself pregnant and struggling, Brianna went to bat for her, and was able to help her get food, clothing, and all the things a new mom might need, including a car seat. She happily delivered all the items to her friend’s house, and never let on it was she who had arranged it.
She didn’t want the credit, Brianna’s older sister, Amy Combra, said. She was just happy she could help out a friend.
“The hardest form of love is saying farewell to someone you love,” Amy said. “Losing my sister Brianna shows me the importance of family and close friends. Bree will be missed, but she will live forever in our hearts and rest in Paradise.”
Brianna had a very special relationship with her father, who predeceased her, and had a bond with her mother that will forever be unbreakable.
She had a special close relationship with her cousins Pamela and Christopher Alley of Vineyard Haven, and Anthony Cardoza of Edgartown.
Brianna leaves behind two sisters, Amy Combra of New Bedford, and Kelly Santos and husband Carlos Santos of Vineyard Haven; uncles Thomas Silva of Fort Worth, Texas, and John Silva, and Richard Combra and wife Dawn Keeling-Combra; Herbert Combra and wife Hilda Combra, all of Oak Bluffs; nephews Mark James Premdas of New Bedford, Malikai Premdas of Vineyard Haven, and Tyler Wiggins of New Bedford; nieces Taylor Combra Jette of New Bedford, Jenna Santos and Julia Santos; and many cousins on the Vineyard.
In addition to her father, she was predeceased by a niece, Kaylee Wiggins, a grandmother, Sonja Silva, and grandfather Manuel Silva of Vineyard Haven.
A church service is scheduled for 11 am, Saturday, May 2, at the Grace Church in Vineyard Haven, followed by a graveside service in the Sacred Heart Cemetery, Oak Bluffs. A gathering at the P.A. Club on Vineyard Avenue will follow services. Please bring a dish to share. Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Oak Bluffs.
Donations in her memory may be made to the Tisbury Ambulance Association, P.O. Box 665, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.