I first met Henry Goethals during the Hoover administration, 16 presidents ago, in the spring of 1931. I stayed at his family’s house in Brookline for several days while his mother took my mother to see the cherry blossoms in DC. I was not quite six and Henry had just turned nine.

He was born March 16, 1922, in Boston. He was probably delivered by his father, Dr. Thomas Rodman Goethals, an obstetrician and in due time a teacher of my father’s at the Harvard Medical School. My father became a pediatrician and the two became colleagues in the practice of medicine with offices near each other.

The Goethals family had a summer home on Lambert’s Cove. Around 1936 we first came to the Vineyard at their invitation.

In 1940, Henry graduated from Roxbury Latin School.

He became a member of the Harvard Class of 1944 but took time off to serve in the Army from 1943. He was mainly in the army’s transportation corps. After our successful invasion of southern France in August, 1944, Henry’s ship landed at Nice when he found another vessel skippered by his Lambert’s Cove neighbor Riley Deeble was docking beside him. They had 75 years of neighborly visits at Lambert’s Cove ahead of them.

Henry returned to Harvard, graduating in 1947 having majored in American history and literature. He was a member of several Harvard football teams, serving in the backfield on both offense and defense.

Later he studied history and Latin American economics at the College of Mexico City. During this time he became fluent in Spanish. In 1951 he began his professional career as a reporter and editor in Mexico City.

In subsequent years he reported from El Paso, Bogata, Argentina and Chile.

In 1957 he was a correspondent for McGraw-Hill Publications. Later he worked for Copley News service.

On Jan. 9, 1959 Henry was stationed in Cuba when Castro overthrew Batista. For a time he was the only radio broadcaster of these events to reach the U.S. He also wrote for The Times of Havana.

By 1972 he had moved to Washington to serve as editor in the office of external relations at the Inter-American Development Bank; he wrote for the Times of the Americas until 1987. During that period Henry arranged for my wife Anne to have an office in that building. Later the Times of the Americas regularly published her cartoons.

Henry married Gabriella del Carmen Ramirez. They had three sons, Anthony, now of Charlotte, N.C., Henry, of San Francisco, Calif., and Alexander of Lambert’s Cove. She died in 1996.

The family lived mainly in Somerset, Md., just outside of DC. Our families lived near each other, both in DC and on the Vineyard. Henry in his last years moved to the same apartment house in Friendship Heights, Md., where our daughter, Jennie, also resides. They lived on the same floor.

In Henry’s later years, after the death of his wife and the fledging of his three sons, he would join his cousin Betsy Ruderfer and her husband Emil in serving Christmas dinners at the Armed Forces Retirement Home founded in 1859. Afterwards, Henry would have Christmas dinner with us.

Henry paid his last visit to the Vineyard in the fall of 2018.

He died on Jan. 30, 2019, in Charlotte, S.C., where he had moved to be near the home of his eldest son, Anthony, daughter in law, Kerin and his two beloved grandchildren, Ryan and Gabriela.

Henry’s mother, Mary Addison Webb Goethals, donated the Lambert’s Cove beach and land to the town of West Tisbury. About a decade or so ago, Henry himself transferred additional land to the town.

A number of Henry’s family members live in Edgartown, while others summer on Hatch Road in Vineyard Haven. Hatch Road is where Henry’s grandfather, the late General Goethals, who supervised the building of the Panama Canal, first lived on the Island around 1890 with his family.

Because I was an only child, I adopted Henry as the big and always supportive brother that I never had. On my 90th birthday in 2015, Henry’s card to me ended as follows: “In the meantime live it up, get your weary bones in bed at 10 p.m. every day and savor the joys of Island living.”

Ave atque vale: Hale and farewell, my dear old friend.

Bob Ganz lives in Chilmark.