Walter E. LaBell


Walter E. LaBell of Oak Bluffs and Hyannis died on Feb. 21, 2024, at Falmouth Hospital, with his son Jeffrey by his side. He was 73.

Walter, known to all as Wally, was born on May 25, 1950, at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He was the son of Carolyn (Ripley) Brown and the stepson of Richard C. (“Dick”) Brown.

The majority of Wally’s childhood was spent in Edgartown. His family moved to Staten Island, N.Y., where they lived for four years. They returned to Martha’s Vineyard in March 1968. His parents built, opened, and ran the original Dairy Queen, which was located where the Stop & Shop is today, for many years.

Wally graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1968. After high school he attended Massachusetts Maritime Academy for one year, and then decided to change direction, and attended an air conditioning and refrigeration trade school in Boston.

Wally began working for Berube Electric on Martha’s Vineyard in 1971, where he was employed for five years. He obtained his electrical journeyman license in 1974. In 1975 he married Linda Frank, and they opened LaBell Electric in 1976. He then obtained his master electrician license, and ran LaBell Electric for 40 years, from 1976 to 2016. Jeffrey, their only child, was born in 1981.

Anyone who knew Wally knows he was passionate and meticulous with his electrical work. If a wire was stapled to the wall and it was crooked, it had to be fixed and corrected, even if it was hidden behind Sheetrock and no one would ever see it. He took an immense amount of pride in his business, and always made sure the job was done right and professionally.

Wally could fix just about anything, and was very mechanically inclined; he was a jack-of-all-trades. He was known for researching products excessively before buying something, no matter if it was something that cost $5 or $5,000. He loved gadgets.

Wally’s true pride and joy was his son Jeffrey. Wally instilled in his son a strong work ethic, to cherish friendships, and be a really fun father. He also made sure to teach him the lighter things — to enjoy life.

Wally passed down to his son and granddaughters a love of boats and boating, and the peacefulness that comes with being out on the water. Wally’s favorite hobby was Jeeping in the mountains. He attended many Jeep Jamborees and other off-road adventures with friends and family, including memorable trips to Moab, Utah, Paragon Off Road Park in Pennsylvania, Bethel, Maine, Killington, Vt., and Charlemont, among others.

Wally loved going out to dinner and breakfast with friends, attending fish frys at the P.A. Club, taking his boat to the Flying Bridge in Falmouth for stuffed quahogs and clam chowder; but his favorite thing to indulge in was a creamy coffee frappe — which he often requested his son and daughter-in-law to bring him, even after moving to a nursing home.

He is survived by his only son, Jeffrey Walter LaBell and his wife Sydney, and his granddaughters Leya and Lark, all of Oak Bluffs; his brother John LaBell of Oak Bluffs; brother Noel LaBell (Carrie) of Connecticut,; sister Christine Clifford (Jay) of Victoria, Va.,; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews, both on and off the Island; and his former wife of 43 years, Linda (Frank) LaBell. Walter was predeceased by his mother, Caroline (Ripley) Brown, stepfather, Richard C. Brown of Oak Bluffs, stepbrother, William A. Brown of Oak Bluffs, maternal grandparents Walter and Laura Ripley of Oak Bluffs, and paternal grandparents Major and Mary LaBell of Edgartown.

A graveside service will be held on Saturday, April 13, at noon in the Oak Grove Cemetery, on Pacific Avenue in Oak Bluffs. A celebration of life will follow at the Portuguese-American Club in Oak Bluffs.