James Howard Lobdell


James Howard Lobdell (“Jim”), the first of three sons of Margaret Kisk and Howard Lobdell, arrived with the incoming tide on the 20th of August 1943; he left us with the outgoing tide — much mourned — on July 22, 2023. Sitting with him as he set off on his last passage were his cherished wife Ginny (Virginia Addicott), adoring family, lifelong friends, a student or two and his dog Hadley. The Lobdells have always had a Lab or two — well-trained seadogs — and Hadley followed Amber, Chamois, and others.

Over the days following his death, thoughts, comments, and prayers have been expressed by many former students who remembered Mr. Lobdell’s classes in architecture, drafting, and engineering at the Regional High School as some of the most important, inspiring, and consequential lessons they ever had. His classes were a mix of basic principles of shop class, filled with creative and intellectual curiosity, plus common sense and a sense of humor. Words such as resolute, perspicacious, loyal, absurdly dependable, resilient, adamant, obdurate, and an old softy (sometimes all in one breath), along with mentor and father figure, devoted friend, and brother have all been expressed by colleagues, friends, and students to describe Jim. Jim had been a member of the faculty for more than 30 years at MVRHS when he retired to spend more time on maritime projects. 

In addition to the almost endless examples of a life well lived, he left us with an enduring respect and devoted commitment to the public good at many different levels. He exemplified the highest integrity in ethics and moral qualities — those in national politics could learn a lot from Jim’s life! It is a mark of the esteem in which Jim was held for his public service (many years as the chair of the harbor management committee, selectman, Lake Tashmoo management, M.V. commissioner, and Dukes County commissioner — none an easy task) that the flags in Tisbury have been at half-staff this week.

Jim and Ginny first sailed in the ’60s on Long Island Sound, camping out with baby son Darren and a dog in a basket under the boom tent of a Lightning. Later joined by daughter Kristin, they sailed on the S&S sloop Xanadu, and all over on the Mary Eleanor — a Bahamian sloop still moored in Vineyard Haven. Then in 1977 they found the Alden Schooner Malabar II in Maine. They bought her and sailed her home to the Vineyard, starting a 45-year love affair. Over the years they sailed her many miles, from Maine to the Chesapeake, and with their kids, to Bermuda. Over the years they also rebuilt and refitted her with the help of several friends. There are those of us who believe that boats have souls — Malabar is a boat with a big soul and spirit. Today, rebuilt and beautifully maintained, she is in the capable hands of Myles Thurlow and family of West Tisbury. She is, at 101 years old, in exceptional condition, and she has been joined by two more recent sisters, which are homeported in Vineyard Haven.

In addition to his wife Ginny, Jim is survived by his brothers Kenneth (and wife Karen) of West Tisbury, and Stephen (and wife Deborah) from Connecticut. He was preceded in death by son Darren on Dec. 26, 2021. He is survived by his and Ginny’s daughter, Kristin Elizabeth and her children Michael Thomas McGuire, James Kendal Thomas McGuire, Dale Thomas McGuire, Felicia Elizabeth McGuire, and Katherine Ayiana McGuire, and their spouses and kids Ayiana, Abigail, Bryson, and Maison.

The family suggests a gift in Jim’s memory to Martha’s Vineyard Hospice and Palliative Care, P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, and don’t forget the flowers on the waters that Jim so loved.