Vance P. Packard of Bear Lake, Thornhurst, Pa. died peacefully Tuesday morning, Oct.  27. He was 78 and had been a regular seasonal resident of Chappaquiddick from a young age. He claimed to have found the house his parents bought, as he and his friends roamed the land and came upon this seemingly abandoned residence in the 1950s. Vance delighted in spending summers there.

As teens, he and his neighbor John Seibel started a newspaper called The Chappy Chatter, one section of which was the obituaries in which they would authoritatively report: “No one died this week.” It was mimeographed and delivered door-to-door on Chappy. Vance also told stories of collecting seashells for Lindsay Patterson Allison to sell as souvenirs for a nickel at the Chappy Ferry. His neighbor Trip Barnes was a willing partner in many pranks, including one in which they put Trip’s mother’s car up on blocks. Vance worked at Coulter’s Garage and the Chappy Ferry in summers. Later he worked at the airport handling baggage and helping to maintain the old planes, including changing out huge batteries on DC-6 transport planes. He credited these early experiences with his lifelong love of machines and mechanical problems.

As an adult he continued to spend time on Chappy in the spring and fall, dovetailing with his love of fishing. He could often be seen at first light at the end of the jetty, while his wife would lay claim to the small jetty. He won second place in the nonresident category for bonito in the 40th derby (1980) and third in the flyrod division for shore bonito in the 45th derby (1985). He claimed he would have had first place in 1980 if he hadn’t missed the first weigh-in in order to find his wife who had wandered off to swim. He loved both the quiet beauty of flyfishing and the camaraderie on the beach.

Vance was born in New York city, the son of the late Vance O. Packard, a noted author and Virginia Mathews Packard, a well-known painter. He grew up in New Canaan Conn., and spent most of his adult life in Pennsylvania. Often when asked where his home was he would say “a little Island off the coast of Massachusetts.”

He was an industrial archeologist with a national reputation. He began as a student in archeology at Franklin and Marshall College where he earned a bachelor’s degree, and continued at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where he received his master’s degree. He returned to Pennsylvania and spent the next 30 years working for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in various capacities. He began in archeology, then moved to historic preservation in the 1970s, and finally ran industrial museums including Drake Well Museum in Titusville and Eckley Miners Village and the Anthracite Heritage Museum in northeastern Pennsylvania. He spent three years digging soldiers huts and officers quarters at Valley Forge, grist mills, forges, iron furnaces and sawmills. At Drake Well he delighted in reconstructing Drake’s engine and bringing old oil field equipment onto the Museum grounds. His position there led to being regional director for western Pennsylvania, the highlight of which was overseeing the restoration of Admiral Perry’s ship, the Flagship Niagara.

Vance met his wife while he was trying to stop HUD from tearing down every house in the Susquehanna Valley after the 1972 flood caused by Hurricane Agnes. She was HUD’s planner, he the historic preservationist, and they fought up and down the river. He became an accomplished machinist and woodworker, skills put to good use in maintaining the museums he valued, his older homes in Pennsylvania and Chappaquiddick, as well as making furniture and toys for family. He applied his wide-ranging knowledge and talents to volunteer work with Thornhurst Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company where he helped to maintain the building and vehicles and was a trustee. He was one of the founders of Coolspring Power Museum in Brookville, Pa., and produced its newsletter for years. He was pivotal in restoring the 1806 Forty Fort Meeting House and the steam-driven sawmill at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, and was a valued director of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and National Canal Museum in Easton, Pa.

He was twice president of the Society for Industrial Archeology and received its highest honor, the General Tools Award. He also received the President’s Award from Pa Museums and honors from the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and Coolspring Power Museum.

His life was marked by generosity, drive, humor and passion. He excelled at photography and fishing and most every endeavor he pursued.

He and his wife traveled extensively, always with a case of cameras, and he was proud that he had visited all seven continents. Yet he never tired of photographing Cape Pogue.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years Barbara (Bonnie) L. Smith; his brother Randall of Atlanta, Ga.; his sister Cynthia Packard Richmond of Annandale, Va.; and several cousins, nieces and nephews, all of whom adored and admired him. He loved to have a houseful of family and friends for whom he would cook and tell stories.

No arrangements have been made yet for a memorial service due to Covid-19 complications.

Donations can be made to Thornhurst Volunteer Fire and Rescue Co., 351 Old River Road, Thornhurst, PA 18424, the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation or the charity of one’s choice.

Arrangements are under the care of Harold C. Snowdon Home for Funerals, Inc., Kingston, Pa.