Nelson Crosby Smith of Edgartown died on April 5, after failing to recover from surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital a few days earlier. He was 92.

He was a captain and fisherman, with gimlet eye, dry hand, stout heart and salty nature. He was a husband and father, a veteran and a friend. And aye, he was an Islander, and we’ll see no more of his kind.

The first child of Stanley Marcus Smith and Marguerite Gertrude (Simpson) Smith, he was born on Jan. 22, 1925 in Westerly, R.I., where his father was stationed in the Coast Guard. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were Islanders. The first Smiths came ashore in 1642, while family lore reckons the original Simpson patriarch to have been an impressed British sailor from the War of 1812 who had jumped ship.

In the early 1930s, Stanley Smith left maritime service and became the Edgartown police chief. A jack of many trades, he also worked as a fish warden, landscaper and painter. Marguerite taught school and later worked for the Edgartown Yacht Club for 35 years. Stanley Smith died in 1962, and Mrs. Smith died in 1998.

As Vineyard families still do, Stanley and Marguerite shuffled around with their burgeoning brood, spending winters mostly in Edgartown, for awhile in the 1851 sea captain’s house that became the Point Way Inn. One place they lived during the summers was a family house near the yacht club tennis courts. Nelson was the oldest of a family of children that grew to nine, with Mary (Larsen), Billy, Kay (Davoll), Carole (Larsen), Diane (Osbaldeston), Mark, George and Mike to follow. Only Mike, the retired Edgartown cemetery department superintendent, survives.

In 1935 the Smiths settled in the long, white ark of a house on the corner of South Summer and High streets that was built for Mary West Simpson, Mr. Smith’s grandmother, around the turn of the 20th century. (It remained in the Smith family until 2007, when the new owner replaced it.) With money tight, the Smiths rented out their home for the high season, moving the family to other lodgings.

Nelson attended the Edgartown School, which in those days served through grade 12. He also worked. In high school, he milked cows on Edward T. Vincent’s farm, rising at four to get the job done before heading directly to school. In November of 1942, at age 17, Nelson enlisted in New Bedford, hoping to ship off with the Marines. Instead he wound up in February 1943 with the Seabees (U.S. Naval Construction Battalions), discharging as a bosun’s mate 3rd class in November 1945. Mostly stationed in the Aleutian Islands (mainly on Kodiak), Nelson delighted in unwinding the story of how he’d bagged a Kodiak bear, something, apparently, he was not supposed to be doing up there. In a photo of Nelson on leave in his enlisted dress blue (or crackerjack) and flat hat, he is the picture of Sailor Jack, all spit and polish, muscle and pride.

Returning to Edgartown after the war, he worked as a commercial fisherman, swordfishing in the summer on Frank Jansen’s dragger R.B. Stinson and sea scalloping in the winter. On March 17, 1951, he married Ann Louise Bernard, an Islander born in Oak Bluffs, who survives him.

Nelson and Ann started a family in Katama, in a little red farmhouse at the end of Meetinghouse Road. William Bernard Smith (today of East Falmouth) arrived in 1952, Nelson West Smith (today of Edgartown) in 1953 and Susan Ann Smith (today of Vineyard Haven) in 1956.

Beginning in late 1940s, Nelson fished Georges Bank with the Larsens. (His sister Mary had married Louis Larsen.) Then he would spend months away winters as a yacht skipper in Florida. But the wind blew hard over the Katama plain, a desolate place in those days for Ann to be rearing little ones on her own.

So in the late 1950s, around the time he decided to give up fishing offshore, the Smiths left Katama for Chase Road, settling in a house built by John Black. On April 5, 1967, 50 years to the day before his death, Nelson and Ann purchased the bungalow on Curtis Lane that became their homestead, where Ann still lives.

Nelson swordfished with Bob Morgan with rod and reel and skippered the Sands of Times for sportsfishermen. “The thing was, to move, to work,” said his son Nelson. He was hired by the town around the July Fourth holiday in the mid-1960s to ferry people to visit the World War II destroyer USS Steinecker and the submarine USS Cavalla, anchored off Edgartown Harbor for the occasion.

As a launchman for the yacht club, Captain Smith introduced son Nelson at age five or six to Jack, Bobby and Ted Kennedy, instructing the boy to “remember this.” “And I remember because my father told me to remember,” his son recalled. Between times, Captain Smith painted houses and delivered newspapers.

From the late 1960s through 1981, he captained the Chappy Ferry. In summers in the 1970s on his days off he would take people out on his 35-foot Loyal, a Bruno Stillman balsa-cored fiberglass lobster boat from which he fished with Ed Prada, who had provided much of the gear. The Loyal had onboard lobster pots, swordfishing gear, the works. In winters there was scalloping.

In fact there were three or four Loyals, the first one bought after the war from Ed Case, Ralph’s uncle. Nelson eventually sold the last Loyal to Ed Prada, who passed her on to his son Eddie, who sold her to Charlie Conroy, whose widow, Arlene, sold her to Steve Ewing, her caretaker for the time being.

It was no secret that he was taken with the busy, beamy catboats that were the workboats of their day. He owned three of them from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s.

Later he continued to skipper charters. Daughter Susan recalled how he took John Havlicek sportfishing for the Genesis Foundation tournaments in the 1980s. In his seventh decade he began to captain for Katharine (Kay) Sutphin Ficks, owner of The General III who’d summered at the Colonial Inn in the 1930s and later bought a house on Atwood Circle. Into her nineties, Mrs. Ficks fished every fair day of the high season, until her flamingo-studded “Boca stick” could no longer support her. It was time for her and the captain to tie up.

Nelson Smith’s later years were hardly idle, given his capacity for friendship and his devotion to his fellow veterans. He was a past commander of VFW Post #9261 in Oak Bluffs, as well as an active member of American Legion Post #257 in Vineyard Haven, where in both organizations he was deeply involved in the scholarship funds, finances and bar committees.

He could on occasion stretch a fish story to the brink of its remoter bounds. Yet his often-plumbed memory ran deep, and when he tugged on that buoy rope that led down time’s eddy, he raised treasure.

On April 15 his ashes were interred with full military honors at the New Westside Cemetery in Edgartown. Donations in his memory may be made to the VFW Post #9261 Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1437, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.