Harold W. Chapdelaine died peacefully at home on April 9, 2022, after gracefully enduring a rapidly progressing illness. Joan, his wife, the love of his life and stalwart companion, was at his side.
Harold was born on May 30, 1954, to Edmond and Louise (Gobiel) Chapdelaine in Providence, R.I. He grew up in Pawtucket, R.I., and met Joan Castanho in 1975 when he was her patient. Yes, he asked out his nurse, and the rest is history. They married in May 1977. In true Harold fashion, on busy nights he’d bring pizzas for the nurses in the ICU where Joan worked, and in the blizzard of ’78, he cross-country skied to the hospital with extra skis so she could get home for a change of clothes.
When Joan got a job as a nurse at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital in 1979, they moved to the Vineyard, and made a life for themselves as “wash-ashores.” He joined the Vineyard construction community, working for Lee Welch. Harold then opened Stonebridge Building and Design, and has been building, renovating, and maintaining Island homes with love, creativity, and excellence since then. After welcoming his two daughters in the mid-’80s, he built his family homes, the first in West Tisbury, and the second, which his wife and daughters joined in constructing, in Vineyard Haven, and from which they spent the next three decades embracing Island life.
Harold loved Martha’s Vineyard, and took great joy in all it has to offer — from the fair to the clam flats, from the wind in the Sound to any number of island businesses and restaurants, Harold delighted in people and their passions.
A man who never finished college, he was a lifelong student, teacher, and a lover of education and community in all forms. He enjoyed sailing, and shared that by teaching map and navigation basics to West Tisbury elementary schoolkids through following the BOC Challenge global yacht race. He later earned his Coast Guard captain’s license. He constantly improved both his construction and design skills, devouring current literature, working with engineers, architects, and interior designers, and always taking the time to teach and learn from his colleagues and employees. He learned how to play lacrosse with a baseball glove in the backyard, and went on to coach at both MVRHS and Falmouth Academy. He went from editing his daughters’ school papers to chairing both the Williams Street Historic Commission and the Tisbury School Building Committee, the resulting approved school design being one of his most valued achievements.
Harold truly embodied his favorite phrase, “Carpe diem,” and has now passed the torch to his adored wife Joan, daughters Elise and Michele, and Michele’s husband Colin and their children Audrey and Liam, to carry on that joyful legacy.
A service will be held at 11 am on Friday, April 22, at St. Augustine’s Church, with a celebration of life to follow at the Agricultural Hall, from 1 to 4 pm. There will be a private burial at a later date. If you plan to attend the celebration, feel free to bring a potluck dessert, to celebrate Harold’s fondness for sweets.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his honor to either Hospice & Palliative Care of Martha’s Vineyard (P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA, 02568) or the CJD Foundation (cjdfoundation.org/donate). Please visit chapmanfuneral.com to sign the online guestbook and for more information.