Laura Guanco, Age 92, Was Native of Gay Head
Laura Vanderhoop Guanco of Aquinnah died Wednesday, August 20, at Windemere Nursing Facility in Oak Bluffs. Her granddaughter, Victoria A. Wright of Washington, D.C., was with her at the time of her death. Laura was the widow of Patricio P. Guanco from the Philippine Islands and the mother of Beverly M. Wright, chairman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).
She was born August 25, 1909 in Gay Head, to Harrison Vanderhoop (Chief No-Ho-No) and Celina Manning Vanderhoop, and was one of 13 children. She graduated from the Tisbury High School in 1926 and went on to graduate from the Swain Art School in New Bedford. While attending school there, she boarded with Medicine Man Napoleon Madison and his wife, Nanetta, parents of the Wampanoag Tribe's present Medicine Man, Luther Madison. Laura continued her studies at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Laura met her future husband, Patricio, in 1936 when he was visiting with friends on the Vineyard. They were married in 1938. Laura said it was "during the great hurricane, when the bridge went out." According to the Vineyard Gazette, it was the biggest wedding of the year, with Laura's seven sisters in attendance at the ceremony.
After their marriage, the couple lived in New York, but ultimately returned to the Island to run the Broken Arrow Hill Restaurant in Aquinnah, which they owned and operated until 1972. The restaurant employed many tribal members, aiding in their education and helping many young mothers supplement their income during the summer months.
Laura saw many changes in her lifetime. When she was born there was no electricity in Gay Head. Nor were there any telephones. While she would never fly, Laura otherwise kept up with the times, recently asking her granddaughter, "What in the world is www.com?" She wanted to know and understand all of its ramifications. In the 1950s she was instrumental in putting on the Legends of Moshup, the tribe's annual pageant. She made regalia, cut wood for the torches and revised the script every season.
She was an elder of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses of Vineyard Haven. A few of her great many pleasures were her devotion to her church, Sunday brunch at Linda Jean's, and her family.
She was predeceased by her husband, who died in 1982. They had been married for 44 years. In addition to her only child, Beverly M. Wright of Aquinnah, she is survived by her son in law, Robert B. MacDiarmid of West Virginia and Aquinnah; two grandchildren, Darren Leport of Aquinnah, and Victoria A. Wright of Washington, D.C.; two great-grandchildren, Cole and Menasha Leport of Aquinnah; four siblings, Phyllis Vanderhoop of Aquinnah, Aleta Vanderhoop of Boston, Christine Scott of Cleveland, Ohio, and Jessie Jourdain of Charlottesville, Va., as well as many nieces and nephews.
Visiting hours are from 7 to 9 p.m. on August 22 at the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m., August 23 at the Jehovah's Witness Church on State Road in West Tisbury, followed by interment at the Aquinnah Cemetery.