Coin diving can be profitable. Buy penny candy, set up a card table in front of your house, and sell it to your friends for twice what you paid. You’re an entrepreneur. That was Joel Anthony.
Joel was born on Dec. 8, 1960, at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, the third of three brothers and sixth of nine children of Rose and George Anthony of Vineyard Haven. He suffered a sudden cardiac attack while walking his devoted dog Logan on July 20, and was evacuated to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where he died on July 28, 2023. His wife, daughter, and family gathered to be with him.
Joel attended Tisbury School, and graduated from the culinary arts program at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He was a mean cook. He served as chef at a church pancake breakfast, but checked every plate that went out to ensure it was properly garnished.
Joel relished being outdoors. He never missed a Little League practice or game, and loved the annual trip to Fenway Park. In winter he was hurtling down Cat Hollow or rigging a sledding course in the front yard, ending in a run down the driveway. He led his buddies in snowball fights against his sisters. He was always happiest outside.
His work kept him outside all his life. During high school summers, he worked at the bike shop under the Flying Horses with two friends. Eventually he saw profit in lawn mowing, working in the neighborhood and then at his friends’ houses. He started working for Donaroma’s Landscaping, absorbing everything there was about lawn and garden care, irrigation, and garden construction.
Eventually, he struck out on his own with a pickup truck, a lawn mower, and a collection of his grandfather’s garden tools. He worked building a clientele, always growing his business by word of mouth. He was proud of using local Island labor each season, providing opportunities for younger workers. He was equally proud of the quality of his work at homes and businesses across the Island. He was seen everywhere in his truck during the season, making sure his customers were always happy.
A blind date one summer night brought him to the Hot Tin Roof and a charmingly beautiful blonde woman from Syracuse, Victoria Lavin. Something clicked, because they later went on a “real” dinner date. They fell quickly in love, and were married in the fall of 2000. They were devoted to each other; anything Vicki wanted or needed, he provided. He was a loving father to Vicki’s daughter Shelby. They were a happy family.
Eventually they had a home in Port St. Lucie, Fla., where they could spend the winter in the sun by the pool. It was the closest he could come to the beach at Dogfish Bar in Aquinnah.
In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by his brothers and sisters, Michael and his husband Carlos of Auburn, Catherine DeGeorge and her husband Jon of Foxborough, Timothy and his wife Susan of Port Charlotte, Fla., Janet of Oak Bluffs, Rosemary of Scituate, Annette and Christine Anthony Kurth of Vineyard Haven, and Iris of Los Angeles. He is also survived by Vicki’s family in Syracuse, and by numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends.
Visiting hours are Friday, August 4, from 5 to 7 pm at Chapman Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs. A memorial service will be at St. Augustine’s Church at 11 am Saturday, August 5, followed by burial at Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven.
Donations may be made to the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1829, Edgartown, 02539, or online at animalshelterofmv.org.