Carla M. Furtaw


Carla M. Furtaw, 57, of Vineyard Haven, went to meet her Lord on Dec. 2, 2021, surrounded by her family, after a 32-year battle with cancer. 

Carla was born on Oct. 12, 1964, to Sandra Ferreira Healy and John Pachico Jr. She attended Tisbury Elementary School, where she made some of her very best lifelong friends. She graduated from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1982, where she fell in love with nursing. Her early nursing studies and career led her to Florida, Hyannis, to Boston City Hospital for clinicals, and back to Martha’s Vineyard.

She worked as a private-duty nurse, as well as acute-care nurse, at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and Windemere as an LPN, in addition to working long hours at the family business, John’s Fish Market.

Carla worked at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital maternity ward for many years, where she would develop some of her strongest friendships. At a very young age, Carla loved babies, so becoming a maternity nurse was a natural choice. She took such joy in helping and supporting families as they welcomed their new babies into the world. Carla was gifted with all the compassion and skill you’d hope for in a nurse. Years later and after much determination, Carla transitioned from LPN to RN, all while going through treatment.

She married the love of her life, Steven Furtaw, in 1988, and they made their home in Vineyard Haven on the family homestead. They traveled to all of Carla’s favorite places, Florida, the Caribbean, and anywhere there was a beautiful, sunny beach. Through their marriage they drew strength from their shared, deep Christian faith.

In 1991 they welcomed their first child, Bradford John, into the world. He fulfilled her dreams of becoming a mother. In 2005, they welcomed their next blessing, Baylee, into the family. Carla’s most treasured title was mom, as she enjoyed motherhood beyond measure.

All who knew Carla understood that cancer did not define her. She lived life to its fullest, and showed up for the fun, wherever it might be.

Carla’s faith in Jesus Christ and her immeasurable love for life and her determination helped her survive cancer for more than 30 years. She inspired everyone who knew her, and she touched so many lives with her friendship, mentoring, and hospitality. Not many people in this world had as many amazing friendships.

Carla was predeceased by her father, John Pachico Jr., and her brother Bradford. She is survived by her loving husband, Steven; her son Bradford and his wife Neffy; daughter Baylee; her mother Sandra Healy; brother Glenn Pachico and his wife Sheila; and her sister Elexis Wildanger; by many nieces and nephews; and by a very large group of family and wonderful friends.

The family would like to thank her amazing caregivers. 

A Christian graveside service will be held on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 11 am at Oak Grove Cemetery off State Road, Vineyard Haven, followed by a celebration of life at the Portuguese-American Club, located on Vineyard Avenue in Oak Bluffs.

Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, c/o Carla Furtaw Nursing Education Fund, 1 Hospital Road, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

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  1. Carla was such a wonderful person and I am so sorry to hear the news of her passing. She was an incredible mother and routinely had my son over for dinner when he was in elementary school. He never wanted to come home after those dinners as Baylee, Carla, Steve, and family always made him feel like he was part of their family. Myself and my children, as well as countless others are better for having known Carla. My thoughts and condolences are with Carla’s family and friends. -Adam

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