Robert H. Chapman, 81, Served Island, Edgartown
Robert Harvey Chapman of Edgartown died Oct. 23 after a short battle with cancer. He was 81.
Mr. Chapman was born in Vineyard Haven in 1921. His father, Clarence P. Chapman, came from away, but his beloved mother, Helen, was descended from the Smiths who settled on the Island in 1658. He was a talented golfer, beginning with his father at the age of eight. Years later he became the golf pro at Edgartown, where he once shot a 30 on the nine-hole course. He won all the Island championships and several off-Island honors as well before retiring from competition in his forties.
Mr. Chapman worked in the Van Riper model shop during his high school years, and when the war came he joined the Army Air Corps, serving as a radar technician and instructor in India, Burma and China until his discharge in 1945. Then, like his father, Mr. Chapman went to work for the telephone company where, as a central office engineer, he set up the circuits for summer visitors each season and took them down again in the fall. He built the central office in Chilmark in one of the last towns in America to get telephone service. He retired in 1982 after 35 years and then kept on for another decade as a carpenter for Burnham & Magnuson. He served as a member of the Martha's Vineyard Refuse District Committee from 1998 to 2002 and on the Edgartown financial advisory committee from 1991 until his death.
A cheerful man, he loved listening to Mario Lanza and Nat King Cole, and could whistle their entire repertoires. He was an enthusiastic cook, particularly of Island dishes including lobster, oysters and onion soup. He was a loyal friend, steadfast in his ways and devoted to the welfare of his family and his town.
He is survived by his wife, Ethel, his son, Jeffrey, and his stepchildren, James Carter, Jessica Townes and Susan Burns, all of Edgartown, as well as 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brother Parker and sister Barbara, but is survived by his sisters Jean Trebby of Vineyard Haven, Anne Seadele of Newfield, Me., Mary Helen Smith of Framingham and his brother Tom of Duxbury.
A funeral service will be held at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown, on Monday, Oct. 28 at 10 a.m. Interment will follow at the New Westside Cemetery in Edgartown with full military honors offered by the Veterans of Martha's Vineyard. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, Martha's Vineyard Community Services Visiting Nurses or the Edgartown Methodist Church, all of which were so helpful in Mr. Chapman's last days. Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs.