The home at 47 Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs is a house of many stories. Owned for the past 56 years by Joseph Sequeira Vera, it was originally built in 1868 by Erastus Payson Carpenter, the leader of the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company’s six founders. The cost was $12,000, at a time when homes designed for middle class vacationers from the Northeast were selling for $700. (For the sake of comparison, three years later in 1871, the Union Chapel was built for $16,000.)

Whaling was ending and the scions of Martha’s Vineyard were investing in the new resort community. Joseph Vera’s great-grandfather, Nicholas R. Vieira, born in 1856 on Flores in the Azores, was a whaling captain on the Canton II and the Bertha from 1901 to 1911. One son, Joseph A. Vieira, captained the Claudia in 1918 and the Valkyria in 1919. The other son, Frank, was an attorney who later became a judge in New Bedford, where Joseph S. Vera was born. Frank and his brother Joe won a whale boat race in New Bedford in 1859 on their boat the Flying Cloud.

Frank brought his family to Oak Bluffs in 1929 — the year after Joe was born — and bought a house on Pennacook avenue. There is a picture of baby Joe in front of the old bathhouses at the Inkwell. Joe Vera also became a lawyer with multiple degrees from multiple educational institutions. In one remarkable story, he represented a man accused of arson who was acquitted 50 years after the only other defendant of a similar crime was represented by his father. The judge in the trial had been the prosecuting attorney in the case that led to his father Frank’s client’s acquittal.

In a 2015 Oak Bluffs column, I wrote about the house at 47 Ocean Park. Joe Vera sent me a letter letting me know that he had bought the house in 1962, and we met and became friends.

The house was designed by an architect from Boston named John Stevens who had adapted it from a French design. Joe restored it in 2004. He was a remarkably interesting man and I was fortunate enough to spend time with him. Chomping on fruits and berries that he grew in his yard, I learned that Joe, like his Dad and uncle, had been an accomplished sailor with many racing trophies to show for it in his cottage behind the main house. He fenced while in college, remained an athlete and regularly ran in 3K and 5K runs sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. In the hospital’s Louis Sullivan Race he placed first among the 80-99 year old men at age 87.

He was a lifetime member of the NAACP. From 1954 to 1970, he practiced law in New Bedford. Harking back to the years after the Civil War when Oak Bluffs was being founded and the days of the town’s many abolitionists, I found that Joe used his legal expertise to spend the rest of his career defending the rights of minorities and women, particularly in housing.

I had to Google Mr. Vera before prying that from him; he was modest about his accomplishments. He served as a legislative assistant in Congress, a director of fair housing for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a commissioner for the Cambridge Human Rights Commission. He was a natural historian who loved Oak Bluffs and we enjoyed stumping each other on historical facts — although fairly often it was me being the one stumped. I ran into Joe in the post office one day and was delighted to find he did not know the small park in front of the house had a name (Landers Park).

Born 40 years and nine days before me on July 14, 1928, Joseph Sequeira Vera died on May 22. He has left his family and friends — including me — with many warm memories.

The house that remains on Ocean Park is a storied home with a giant’s heart.