Blaikie Purvis, a longtime summer resident of Edgartown and Chilmark who raced dinghies in Edgartown harbor as a boy, was married at St. Andrew’s and marked many milestones on the Island, died after a long illness in November in Montreal, Canada. He was 87.
Blaikie was born in New York city to the Rt. Hon. Arthur B. and Margaret Purvis and raised in Montreal. His father was a Scots-Canadian industrialist who led the British effort to buy arms in America at the beginning of World War II.
The family summered at Tower Hill in Edgartown in the 1930s where Blaikie learned to dive and race and where his parents played host to a steady stream of guests from Washington, New York and Montreal. He and his father raced a 28-foot wooden sloop known as a Vineyard Sound Interclub, or Vineyarder for short. Blaikie was on vacation from Eton College in England during World War II when news came late one August night that the military plane in which his father was traveling from Scotland to North America had crashed on take off, killing all on board. A British government official called a neighbor, who walked over in the darkness to the house to bring Blaikie and his mother the news. Prime Minister Winston Churchill called his father’s death a “grievous loss” to the war effort. Blaikie, who was 16 at the time, never forgot that night.
He completed his education in England, fought with the Scots Guards as a tank commander in Germany and later attended Harvard Business School. He married Peggy Wright, a fellow McGill University graduate, at St. Andrew’s in Edgartown, following a week of parties thrown by neighbors and friends. Peggy’s mother, who was visiting from South Africa at the time, later marveled at how the engaged couple “went around the house in shorts and bare feet and wet hair!” The two spent their wedding night in a “fairy tale” cottage up-Island in Chilmark.
Newly wed, Blaikie returned to Montreal to join the Canadian branch of Calvin Bullock, the New York firm, introducing mutual funds to Canadian consumers and rising to become managing director. He and Peggy later built a home on Seven Gates Farm in Chilmark. Each summer they drove their four children down from Montreal with a wooden sailfish belted to the roof. Blaikie loved to ski, play tennis and swim, especially in the evenings, off Seven Gates Farm, as the sun set beyond Naushon. He is survived by a second wife, Andrea Vaillancourt; his children, Andrew, Lois Mary, Christopher and Michael, all of whom return to the Vineyard each summer; and eight grandchildren. His first wife, Peggy, died last year.
There will be a memorial service this summer in Edgartown.