Bruce A. Farland


Bruce A. Farland of Edgartown, commonly known around the island as “Bruce E. Bruce,” died on Oct. 24th, 2019, while at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, after suffering from a long illness. Widely regarded as an integral part of the Martha’s Vineyard community, his enduring spirit, jokes, and dance moves made him a local legend. He was 62 years old.
Bruce was born at Otis Air Force Base in Bourne on Cape Cod in 1956, the first son of Joseph A. Farland Jr. and Jane (Duarte) Farland. Being in a military family meant that Bruce and his siblings traveled for a large portion of their childhood, traveling from Cape Cod to France, to Hawaii, and ultimately moving back to Falmouth in 1973, where Bruce graduated from high school in 1975.
After high school, Bruce moved to New Hampshire with a group of close friends. Bruce regarded New Hampshire’s White Mountains as a second home, and taught many friends and family how to ski on the slopes of his favorite mountain, Cannon Mountain. Bruce had a reputation for being able to ski with the best of them at Cannon, as well as for making sure everyone knew exactly how fast he clocked in at.
Bruce moved back to Cape Cod in the early ’80s and began working as a machinist while living in a boathouse in Cotuit with his dog, an Irish setter named Megan. There he met and married Laurie O’Meara, and together they had their son, Jonathan.
In 1987, Bruce moved to Martha’s Vineyard, where his family has a long history spanning several centuries. Bruce lived in and maintained the house of his grandparents, Frank and Charlotte Duarte. Frank was a member of the Edgartown Fire Department as well as a local house painter, owning a paint shop on Green Street. Bruce’s paternal grandfather, Joseph A. Farland Sr., also known as “Spike” Farland, served for many years as the Oak Bluffs fire chief; Joseph A. Farland Square, at the foot of Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, is dedicated to his memory. Both of Bruce’s parents were born in Oak Bluffs.
Bruce worked as the store manager for Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard for many years, making a name for himself as a talented mechanic and sailor. Eventually Bruce saw an opportunity to provide a valuable service to the local maritime industry, and decided to launch Great Harbor Boatyard in 2000. Since its inception, Great Harbor Boatyard has been trusted with the care of hundreds of boats across Martha’s Vineyard, as well as employing just as many of the island’s year-round residents. Bruce took it upon himself to hire locals, some of them with virtually no experience or qualification when it came to boat maintenance or service. He gave them the opportunity to learn from him directly, thus providing both employment and a potential career in the maritime industry. Bruce was known for his incredible strength of character as a friend and businessman, evidenced by the outpouring of support from his customers over the long span of his illness.
He is survived by his longtime partner Karen Jardin of Edgartown, whom he loved very much. Whether it was cooking meals for friends who were staying with them, or watching the Patriots games on Sundays at the Seafood Shanty or making strangers feel welcome by buying them “wee bits” at the Wharf Pub, Bruce and Karen were known for their generosity, kindness, and good spirit. During the summer months, many friends and family were lucky enough to be invited aboard Bruce’s sailboat, Onward, for an adventurous cruise (to say the least).
He is survived by his son Jonathan, a consultant and musician in California who learned exactly how to measure the strength of a man, as well as his love of music, from his father. Bruce is survived by his sisters Charlene (Antrim) and Elizabeth, brothers Joseph and Timothy, and parents Joseph A. Farland Jr. and Jane (Duarte) Farland. He is also survived by nieces, nephews, godchildren, cousins, second cousins, and countless friends who loved him very much. He touched the lives of many more people than can be truthfully written with the ink on this page.
A memorial service for Bruce will be held at the Old Westside Cemetery in Edgartown on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 11 am, with a reception at the Wharf Pub to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bruce’s name to Sail Martha’s Vineyard at or 508-696-7644.
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