Jim Gaffney’s life, not his legacy, came to an end after a prolonged illness on Thursday, Jan. 31. He was 74. His legacy of civil service, friendship, fatherhood and business acumen will forever live on in those who knew and loved him.
Jim was born in Weymouth on July 19, 1938. A war widow, Jim’s mother Mabelle, along with his brother Clifford, and sister Mary Jane, kept her family in Weymouth throughout Jim’s childhood. It was in Weymouth that Jim joined Boy Scout Troop #2, one of the oldest troops in Massachusetts. He achieved the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout and because of his outstanding accomplishments within his troop, was selected to be one of an elite group of scouts that toured historical sites and natural wonders across the country for two consecutive summers. Jim graduated from Norfolk Agricultural High School with honors and began his career in animal husbandry and land management. His reputation in those fields was what first brought him to Martha’s Vineyard. From that first visit, Jim loved the Island and vowed to move to Martha’s Vineyard permanently.
In 1976, with his then-wife Elvira and two children, Nancy Jeannette and James Allen (“B,” to those who knew him), Jim fulfilled that vow. He supported his family and served the town as cemetery director for nearly 10 years.
Shortly after arriving on the Island, Jim was invited to join and was quickly inducted into the Society of Free and Accepted Masons. He earned the title of Master Mason from Oriental-Martha’s Vineyard Lodge shortly thereafter. Jim wore his Masonic ring with quiet pride for the rest of his life. He inspired others to join, including his son James.
In 1986, with support of friends, family, his faithful dog, a cordless phone and a lawn chair, Jim started his own small-engine repair business: Jim’s Outdoor Power Equipment. It quickly outgrew its humble beginnings and was relocated to the Woodland Business Park. Jim’s Outdoor Power Equipment has been in the same location since 1993. Jim’s talent for one-liners, storytelling, quality merchandise and excellent service made customers into friends. Jim’s Outdoor Power Equipment will remain in operation for many years to come.
Jim is survived by his daughter, Nancy Jeannette Gaffney, and long-time friend Nancy Lucille Cox, both of Vineyard Haven. He was predeceased by his son James Allen and his ex-wife, Elvira Cook. Those who knew and loved him will forever remember a man who made such an impact on their lives. Visiting hours were held Sunday, Feb. 3 in the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs. His funeral service was held on Monday, Feb. 4 with a Masonic funeral service performed by the Oriental-MV Masonic Lodge.
He was interred in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven.
Donations may be made in his memory to the Boy Scouts of America at scouting.org.