George Perry (Bubbles) Silva died this past spring while visiting a close friend in Hawaii. A lifelong Islander and a dedicated family man, he can aptly be remembered for being a builder: a builder of his family, of houses and cars, of his 36-foot sailboat Patience, of an Island life. He was 73.

Born in 1933 in the family home off Edgartown Road in Vineyard Haven, George was the son of Manuel and Rosa Silva, Portuguese immigrants from Madeira.

The youngest of six children (the others were John, Manny, David, Mary, and Gloria), he grew up in a time when it was common for Island homes to be largely self-sufficient. George often recounted early memories of life at home, of milk from the cows being kept cool from the summer heat under the broad, deep shade thrown by the garden rhubarb, of the annual pig harvest, of the prolific red and white grapes they used to produce wine for the year. This self-sufficiency, coupled with growing up in a big family with hard-working parents, taught him about independence, self-reliance, and how to build or make just about anything. It was during these early years that he started to build his American life.

George attended the Tisbury School, which in those years included both grade and high school. Upon graduation, he proudly served in the Army for two years in France. Returning to the Island, he embarked on his career as a tradesman, which began as a painter with Mike Fontes, and the K.T. Galley Co. He then started a painting business, Pachico and Silva, with partner Donald Pachico, in the late 1960s. They later added a third partner, Jesse Steere, and became Noepe Contractors, building and remodeling homes across the Island and employing more than 20 carpenters and painters.

In 1973 he purchased the W.G Manter Company on Main street, Vineyard Haven, selling paint, window dressings, carpeting, and later, gifts and furniture.

In 1966, he met Lynne Gale, who worked for his friend Francis Cournoyer at the Harborlight. George and Lynne fell in love, and were married on Nov. 25, 1967. They stayed married for 40 years until his death.

With a growing family, George and Lynne began building a house together in Lambert’s Cove in a quiet spot he always loved because it was nestled in a small dell, surrounded by streams and big trees. They finished their home in 1972, and they moved their fledgling family from the home he was raised in to the home they built, where their family continued to grow.

For those who knew George, they knew of his dedication to his four sons, as evidenced by his attendance at each soccer and hockey game and his somewhat loquacious support at said games. He took pride in the successes of his sons. He also enjoyed listening to opera and classical music, making cheesecake for the hockey auction, visiting his friend Jim Richards, and drinking fine wine. Christmas was his favorite holiday with all his family around him, everyone indulging in his world-famous Christmas coffee cake.

George was limited in his later years due to his battles with diabetes. He struggled to adjust to the limitations this disease put on his body and indeed on his life, but with resolve, and the donation of a kidney from Lynne, George was able to truly enjoy life for the time before he died.

During this period, he could often be found building photo albums from vast stores of uncatalogued family photos or reading books about seafaring. George loved visiting with his sister Mary for a cup of tea, or taking rides around the Island they both know so well. George enjoyed quiet days with Lynne, listening to music and watching the nature around his home. He enjoyed life to the end, demonstrated by his presence in Hawaii visiting his dear lifelong friend, Jim Richards. Now that he’s gone, he’ll give no more lessons, but he has built a strong foundation for his family to build their lives on. He will be dearly missed.

When you see Patience beating a track in the Sound, you’ll see George’s spirit, sailing the waters surrounding the Island where he built his life.

George is survived by Lynne, his wife, children Todd and wife Shelby and granddaughters Lauren, Makenna, and Shay, Reid and wife Moira, Ryan and wife Emily, Troy, brother David, and sisters Mary and Gloria.

He was interred in Lambert’s Cove Cemetery on April 25. He will be close to home.