John Gilpin died on Dec. 12 at the age of 51.

He was born in Neptune, N.J., and grew up in Lincroft, N.J., where he was trained as a ferrier and later worked as a machine operator for an excavation company.

John moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 1987 and continued a career as an operator at DECA Excavation, a job that he was proud of and allowed him to leave a lasting mark across the Island. With his passing, John leaves a hole in the hearts of his innumerable friends and loved ones larger than any hole he would be able to dig.

John is survived by his mother Kitty Applegate, soulmate Annette Bowes and her daughter Eliza, his sons Sean and Wesley Gilpin and his faithful dog Dozer.

Donations can be made in his name to the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1829, Edgartown, MA 02539, or Vineyard House, P.O. Box 4599, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.