Geraldo Ferreira, (known to all as Gerry) died in his sleep on Nov. 10 in his apartment overlooking a slice of Oak Bluffs Harbor, where he had become a fixture over the past 12 years.

The son of Ondina and Jose Ferreira, Gerry came to this country from Ipatinga, Brazil looking for opportunity, eventually making his way to the Island. He spoke often and lovingly of his family, lamenting the distance between them. He spoke most often about his father, who, at 88, was in poor health. Gerry planned to visit him this year, a plan cut short. Neither he nor his father lived with the knowledge that the other had died; Gerry and Jose died on the same day, Nov. 10, within hours of each other, a continent apart.

Gerry meant a lot to a lot of people. Through his endearing generosity, his ebullient nature, and his zest for life, he made many steadfast friends here on the Island and abroad. From students in Serbia to sushi chefs from Beijing, he touched all those he came in contact with, and brought them under his wing. Many first-time visitors identified him as their lasting connection to the Island. He seemed to feed half of the downtown at lunchtime, always traditional Brazilian fare. He propped up those in need, tutored Americans in Portuguese, fixed local kids’ bicycles, poured himself out, always available to lend an extra hand, consistently putting others before himself. He was, truly, one in a million.

On most summer nights you could find him dancing at the Ritz, or the Coop, or the Sandbar, to any song, though his favorite was Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba. Often he was the only one dancing, until others caught his boundless enthusiasm and joined in. While there, he was known to bus tables and sweep the floors to the music, much to the surprise of bartenders and waitresses. In the winter, whenever it snowed, he was the first person out in the morning shoveling his and his neighbors’ walkways.

Gerry had a tremendous work ethic, and took pride in running the Washashore Laundromat, as well as working at Coop De Ville and the Sandbar. He catered to everyone in the community, and his cathartic presence brightened lunch hours as he held court in his living room discussing minute and serious doings in the downtown.

Gerry is survived by sisters Celina, Angela, and Sonia, brothers Jose, Wilson, and Luis, three children and multiple nieces and nephews, as well as his Island family of friends, who were so important to him. He was predeceased by his brother Hugo.

Gerry was an invaluable member of this community, his presence already deeply missed by those fortunate enough to have known him. Those that did know him knew a loving and generous man, not without internal conflict. He lived openly and honestly, and in his own way set an example of love, hard work, and generosity to which we can all aspire.

A celebration of his life will be held at a later time.