Carla M. Furtaw of Vineyard Haven died peacefully Dec. 2 after a 32-year battle with cancer. She was 57.

She was born on Oct. 12, 1964 to Sandra Ferreira Healy and John Pachico Jr. She attended the Tisbury School, where she made some of her very best lifelong friends. She fell in love with nursing while she was a student at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, which she graduated from in 1982. Her early nursing studies and career led her to Florida, Hyannis, Boston City Hospital for clinicals, and back to Martha’s Vineyard.

She worked as a private duty nurse as well as acute care nurse at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and at Windemere as a licensed practical nurse. Years later and after much determination, Carla transitioned from LPN to RN, all while going through treatment. She also worked long hours at the family business, John’s Fish Market.

Carla worked in the maternity ward at the Vineyard hospital for many years and developed some of her strongest friendships there. At a young age, she loved babies, so becoming a maternity nurse was a natural choice. She took such joy in helping and supporting families as they welcomed their new babies into the world. She was gifted with all the compassion and skill you’d hope for in a nurse.

In 1988, she married Steven Furtaw, the love of her life. They made their home in Vineyard Haven on the family homestead. They traveled to all of Carla’s favorite places in Florida, the Caribbean and anywhere there was a beautiful sunny beach. Through their marriage they drew strength from their shared, deep Christian faith.

In 1991 they welcomed their first child, Bradford John, into the world. He fulfilled her dreams of becoming a mother. In 2005, they welcomed Baylee into the family. Carla enjoyed motherhood beyond measure and her most treasured title was Mom.

All who knew her understood that cancer did not define her. She lived life to its fullest and showed up for the fun wherever it might be.

Her faith, immeasurable love for life, and her determination helped her survive cancer for more than 30 years. She inspired everyone who knew her and she touched so many lives with her friendship, mentoring, and hospitality. Not many people in this world had as many amazing friendships.

She was predeceased by her father, John Pachico Jr. and her brother Bradford. She is survived by her loving husband Steven; son Bradford and his wife Neffy; daughter Baylee; her mother Sandra Healy; brother Glenn Pachico and his wife Sheila; sister Elexis Wildanger; many nieces and nephews, and a large group of family and wonderful friends.

A graveside service will be held on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 11 a.m. at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven. A celebration of life will follow at the Portuguese American Club in Oak Bluffs.

Her family would like to thank her amazing caregivers. A scholarship has been started in her honor and donations can be made to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital c/o Carla Furtaw Nursing Education Fund, 1 Hospital Road, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

For online tributes, visit