Bruce A. Farland of Edgartown, commonly known on the Island as Bruce E. Bruce, died on Oct. 24 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston after a long illness. Widely regarded as an integral part of the Martha’s Vineyard community, his enduring spirit, jokes and dance moves made him a local legend. He was 62.

Bruce was born at Otis Air Force Base in Bourne on Cape Cod in 1956, the first son of Joseph A. Farland Jr. and Jane (Duarte) Farland. Being in a military family meant that Bruce and his siblings traveled for a large portion of their childhood: from Cape Cod to France, to Hawaii and ultimately moving back to Falmouth in 1973, where Bruce graduated high school in 1975.

After high school, he moved to New Hampshire with a group of close friends. He regarded New Hampshire’s White Mountains as a second home and taught many friends and family how to ski on the slopes of his favorite mountain: Cannon Mountain. Throughout his life Bruce had a reputation for being able to ski with the best of them at Cannon, as well as for making sure everyone knew exactly how fast he clocked in at.

He moved back to the Cape in the early 1980s and began working as a machinist while living in a boathouse in Cotuit with his dog, an Irish setter named Megan. He met and married Laurie O’Meara; they had one son, Jonathan.

In 1987, Bruce moved to Martha’s Vineyard where his family lineage has a long history spanning several centuries. Bruce lived in and maintained the house of his grandparents, Frank and Charlotte Duarte. Frank was a member of the Edgartown fire department as well as a local house painter owning a paint shop on Green street. His paternal grandfather Joseph A. Farland Sr., also known as Spike Farland, served for many years as the Oak Bluffs fire chief. Joseph A. Farland Square at the foot of Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs is dedicated to his memory. Both Bruce’s parents were born in Oak Bluffs.

He worked as the store manager for Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard for many years, making a name for himself as a talented mechanic and sailor. Eventually, he saw an opportunity to provide a valuable service to the local maritime industry and decided to launch Great Harbor Boatyard in 2000. Since its inception, the boatyard has been trusted with the care of hundreds of boats across the Vineyard as well as employing many Island year-round residents. Bruce took it upon himself to hire locals, some of them with virtually no experience or qualification when it came to boat maintenance or service. He gave them the opportunity to learn from him directly, providing both employment and a potential career in the maritime industry. He was known for his incredible strength of character as a friend and businessman, evidenced by the outpouring of support from his customers over the long span of his illness.

He is survived by his longtime partner Karen Jardin of Edgartown, whom he loved very much. Whether cooking meals for friends, watching the Patriots on Sundays at the Seafood Shanty or making strangers feel welcome by buying them “wee bits” at the Wharf Pub, Bruce and Karen were known for their generosity, kindness and good spirit. During the summer months, many friends and family were lucky enough to be invited aboard Bruce’s sailboat, Onward, for an adventurous cruise.

He is survived by his son Jonathan, a consultant and musician in California who learned exactly how to measure the strength of a man, as well as his love of music, from his father; his sisters Charlene and Elizabeth; brothers Joseph and Timothy; and parents Joseph A. Farland Jr. and Jane (Duarte) Farland; and many nieces, nephews, godchildren, cousins, second cousins and countless friends. He touched the lives of many more people than can be truthfully written.

A memorial service will be held at the Old Westside Cemetery in Edgartown on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 11 a.m., with a reception at the Wharf Pub to follow.

Donations can be made to Sail Martha’s Vineyard at or at 1-508-696-7644.

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