Rene Louis Blanc of Oak Bluffs died peacefully on April 30, just shy of his 91st birthday, surrounded by his six children. He was first and foremost a family man, a devoted husband and father who exemplified integrity, hard work, generosity and humor. A true gentleman, respected businessman and loyal friend to many, he left an indelible mark on all who were fortunate to know him.

Born in New York city on May 16, 1928, and raised in Scarsdale, N.Y., Rene was the youngest of three sons born to Marcel Louis Blanc and Paule Voisin Blanc, who had emigrated from France as young adults and earned U.S. citizenship. Returning with his family for summer visits to their native Brittany and on Ile Aux Moines, the cherished island home of his maternal grandmother, Rene developed his passion for a life lived near the sea, which he filled with swimming, sailing and savoring the bounty of local food and fresh catches.

After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1950, he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Soon after he returned, he met his future wife, Patricia Burke, on a blind date. They married in 1954, a love story and partnership that would last 62 years. Rene and Patti had dreams of raising alarge family, and they welcomed six children over the next 10 years. They moved a fair amount when the kids were little but built a house in Norwell in 1972, which included an apartment for Rene’s parents, who instilled a distinctively French vernacular to the large and sometimes unruly household. During this period, Rene and Patti began visiting Martha’s Vineyard with her brother’s family and immediately fell in love with the Island. Soon, both families rented houses on Ocean Park for the season. These summers defined and cemented a legacy of amazing Vineyard memories, and Rene and Patti yearned to make the Island their year-round home.

Rene’s natural athleticism and fun-loving spirit always had him at the bottom of a pigpile or spending an entire snowy afternoon careening down a sledding hill on his classic wooden eight-foot toboggan and pulling all six kids back up for another run. His strong shoulders were a launching point for countless little feet, balancing his kids, nieces, nephews and any other stray child who wanted to throw themselves into the ocean, the place he most loved to be with his family. Although he traveled extensively as a regional representative for a power and utility manufacturer, he was always up for a bike ride, game of ping pong or shooting a few hoops. He coached three Little League teams and traveled to see his daughters' college basketball games.

In 1986, with their youngest child off to college, Rene and Patti fulfilled their dream of moving full time to the Vineyard, with Rene commuting until his retirement in 1996. They built in Hidden Cove and Rene immediately became active in the homeowner’s association, Friends of Sengekontacket and the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club. Always busy building and fixing things, Rene quickly attracted interest from many of his neighbors who needed a trusted friend to look after their properties in the off season. Thus, Rene’s Property Care was launched. For the next 23 years, he maintained over 30 properties, continuing to check his houses and make repairs until just a couple of weeks before he died. Many tributes were given by his friends, neighbors and clients, summed up by this quote: “Our beloved Rene took care of more than our homes . . . he took care of our hearts.”

He remained energetic and positive to the end, tending to his caretaking business, making long trips to visit family and friends, and ultimately leaving this earth “with his boots on,” just as everyone had always known him.

He is survived by his six children, Deborah Duhon, Linda Young, Richard Blanc, Lisa Stewart, Christopher Blanc and Timothy Blanc, and their spouses. He also leaves his brother in law Richard Burke, sister in law Jean Blanc, and his beloved 14 grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews and their families.