Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We apologize for the delay in writing this letter to thank so many of you. But the unexpected passing of our father, Joseph B. Gonsalves Jr. has hit us pretty hard.

We were totally overwhelmed with the amount of love and support we received from our family, friends and the Martha’s Vineyard Community.

We as a family have gotten together and reflected on how although it was very sad, it was also very beautifully done. Starting with the wake, having a deputy sheriff at the entrance door standing at attention, followed by the long line of firefighters, EMTs, deputy sheriff and police from all Island towns (men and women), dressed in their class A or dress blue uniforms, conducting a pass and review (saluting our father’s casket) and then expressing their condolences to each one of us.

On the morning of the funeral our friends drove each of our families in their cars. The procession was led by two Oak Bluffs motorcycles, an Aquinnah police cruiser and Tisbury’s American Legion pumper fire truck. As we pulled in front of St. Augustine’s Church, we were greeted by many more officers and firefighters standing at attention showing their respect for our father. Our friends in the church choir sang songs from the heart.

At our father’s final resting place in the Oak Grove Cemetery we were received by many more people with the sond of the bagpipes playing. He was read the fireman’s prayer, saluted by veterans and honor guard who gave a gun salute and played taps. The presentation of the perfectly-folded American flag cam at the end.

What an experience for us, and especially for his grandchildren, to see our father, their Papa, laid to rest with such honor and respect. We are sure he was smiling down on all of you that day.

Thank you also for the food, flowers, cards, hugs and prayers And also thank you to the Portuguese American Club’s benevolent committee.

Family of Joseph B. Gonsalves, Jr. , Vineyard Haven