John Coutinho, 88, Was Fisherman, Handyman

John B. Coutinho, 88, of Oak Bluffs, died Oct. 26 at Martha's Vineyard Hospital with his family at his side. He fought emphysema several years with great determination and a sense of humor, a quality that he carried throughout his life.

A lifelong resident of Martha's Vineyard, John was born in Vineyard Haven on August 2, 1914, to his parents, John Agrella Coutinho and Mary Paiva Coutinho, who immigrated to Martha's Vineyard from Madeira Island, Portugal. John grew up in Vineyard Haven, where as a young man he became a grocery truck delivery man for Bang's Market, where he met his future wife, Alice Dias, the market's bookkeeper. He later became meat manager for the First National in Oak Bluffs. In order to support his growing family during World War II, he traveled off the Island to help build barracks at the naval base in Newport, R.I., the Miles Standish army base in Taunton, and also built barracks at Katama, Martha's Vineyard Airport and Peaked Hill.

After the war, he began commercial fishing during summer months on the fishing vessel Viking with Joe Ferreira and later with his father, who bought the Viking. During the winter he fished on several different vessels until he decided to buy his own boat, the Reliance. Captain John fished every summer for several years with his uncle, Claudino Paiva, and beginning in 1959 with Tom Jardin of Vineyard Haven. During winters, John and Tom built and remodeled homes until John's recent retirement. For 32 years he faithfully served the town of Oak Bluffs as an assessor.

John will be remembered for his love of family, always being available to help them with household projects. He was able to paint, paper, upholster, refinish and repair anything. He possessed artistic talents and loved growing beautiful roses on his white picket fence. He enjoyed playing the guitar, especially when entertaining friends and relatives at home with his wife, Alice. They would sing, dance and play musical instruments, performing all kinds of popular music. He and his brothers and cousins would also perform during the holiday season, caroling in Portuguese and English. Many Island people cherish the memories of the Portuguese music being played at their front doors during the holiday season.

John and Alice were expert ballroom dancers who enjoyed many years of dancing at the Tivoli and the Chilmark Tavern. They traveled quite often with friends, including a trip to Madeira and to Hawaii. They sang together for 25 years in the church choir at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic church, under the direction of their daughter, Sylvia. They recently celebrated 66 years of marriage.

John was most happy with family around him that included five children, 10 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. John is survived by one son, Richard Coutinho of Oak Bluffs; three daughters, Sylvia Rogers of Oak Bluffs, Virginia Coutinho of Vineyard Haven and Marjorie Dolby of Marstons Mills. One son, Jack Coutinho of Vineyard Haven, predeceased him.

His funeral mass was celebrated on Oct. 29 at Our Lady Star of the Sea church in Oak Bluffs. Donations in John's memory may be made to Our Lady Star of the Sea church, P.O. Box 1565, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.