Todd J. Follansbee, life partner of Deborah Mayhew, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Friday, Sept. 14 at home in West Tisbury. He was 61 years old. Son of Dudley and Margery Follansbee of Brunswick, Me., he was born in Portchester, N.Y. on April 19, 1951. Todd spent his youth in Larchmont, N.Y., later graduating from Mount Hermon Prep School in Northfield, Mass. He earned a BA from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.

At an early age Todd developed a love for sailing and downhill skiing and was a master of both. An avid skipper, he sailed his boat from the Caribbean to Nova Scotia and continued for many years in the boating industry, selling nautical equipment in partnership with his father in D.B. Follansbee, Inc. He later worked in the
Todd Follansbee. In the late Spring of 2007, Todd attended a professional society meeting in New Haven, Conn. at which Deborah was the invited speaker. They struck up an email correspondence, and on 7/7/07, at 7 p.m., Todd set sail on his 44-foot Alden Ketch from New Haven with plans to stop by Martha’s Vineyard on his way to a family reunion in Maine. He ended up staying two weeks on the Vineyard before getting around to continuing on to Maine, and after two weeks in Maine, sailed back to the Vineyard and never left. Todd quickly realized that the Vineyard was truly his Place in the Universe, and in a community known for being hard to break into as a washashore, he quickly became not only accepted but warmly embraced and involved.
Todd was the ultimate people person. He was extroverted and gregarious. He loved to connect with people, and to connect his people to one another. He knew how to be a great friend and thus had countless friends from the many stages of his life with whom he made the effort to stay in touch over the years. He also loved music, and became known as an organizer of parties with live local music.
Todd was a doting father to his three daughters, a loving father figure to Deborah’s daughter Katie, a devoted life partner to Deborah, and a loving son, brother, uncle, grand-uncle, cousin and nephew to his large extended Follansbee and Mayhew families. In the last two summers he took a job as a guide at the Gay Head Lighthouse through the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, which he absolutely loved and through which he made countless meaningful connections with visitors from all over the world. His lean 6 foot, 4 inch frame, full head of white hair and full white beard, beaming smile and always twinkling deep blue eyes made him the perfect old salt for the job.
Todd always said that one of the first things he noticed when he moved to the Vineyard was that no one he met ever asked him what he did for a living in an initial conversation. They simply started to get to know him as a human being and community member, without any prejudgment based on socioeconomic status. He treasured this aspect of the Island community. Todd was himself a warm, gentle, welcoming, kind, non-judgmental person who knew how to give unconditional love to his wide circle of family, friends and community, and this in turn made him a perfect fit on the Vineyard.
Todd is survived by his parents; his three sisters, Laurie F. Mobilio of Saratoga, Calif., Sallie F. Dunning of Newton and Helen F. Nicita of Brunswick and their husbands; his adored daughters, Erin Follansbee of New Britain, Conn., Anne Follansbee of Maspeth, N.Y. and Alyssa Follansbee of Chicago, Ill.; his aunt, Jinny Muniz of Sidney, Me.; his former wife, Christine Schell of Groton Long Point, Conn., as well as numerous cousins, nieces and nephews; and by his beloved partner, Deborah Mayhew and her daughter Katie Mayhew of West Tisbury, as well as the extended Mayhew clan who warmly embraced and loved him as family.
A memorial service for Todd to be held in the evening on April 6, 2013 is in the planning stages. Anyone interested in keeping informed and getting involved as plans evolve is invited to join the Facebook Group page called “Todd Follansbee MV Memorial Bash” at
The family suggests that donations may be made in Todd’s memory to The Martha’s Vineyard Museum, in memory of Todd Follansbee for the Gay Head Lighthouse, P.O. Box 1310, Edgartown, MA 02538..