JOSEPH E. GARLAND
Joseph Everett Garland, of Gloucester, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully at his home on Tuesday, August 30, the last sound he heard being the cannon of Capt. Tom Ellis’ schooner Thomas E. Lannon booming out in salute. He had been in declining health since suffering a stroke in mid-August.
Joe was born in Boston, but had Gloucester roots for generations back through the Niles and Rogers families; he was the fourth Joseph Garland to live in Gloucester. Although he had a privileged upbringing – he attended Roxbury Latin School and spent summers at Riverview, the old family place on the Annisquam River – that did not define him. While a student at Harvard, he was swept up, with millions of his fellows, into the upheaval of World War II. His army service in the Intelligence & Reconnaissance Platoon of the 45th Infantry Division’s 157th Regiment took him to both Italy and France – experiences that he relates in his twenty-fifth and final book Unknown Soldiers, a moving chronicle that he completed in the years before his death.
Following the war, he worked as a reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune, Boston Herald and Providence Journal. Due to his union-organizing, he found opportunities diminishing in this field, and turned to freelance work. By the late 1950’s, he’d made Gloucester his home, and began to write books. His biography of Howard Blackburn, Lone Voyager, appeared in 1963, and perhaps more than anything else has ensured Blackburn’s enduring fame. Lone Voyager was followed by That Great Patillo, another tale of a larger-than-life Gloucesterman, and books covering the era of the fishing schooners.
Drawn to the sea himself, and having a connection to Blackburn (his grandfather had operated on him after his fateful voyage), Joe restored Blackburn’s own boats Great Republic and Cruising Club, and spent many happy days sailing them with family and friends. When, as part of the city’s 350th anniversary celebration, a classic wooden boat race was held, Joe skippered his schooner, Bandit, with two local fishing captains as crew in a memorable escapade. Later, he was an instigator in the successful effort to bring the schooner Adventure back to Gloucester. From the deck of Black Bess, his home on Eastern Point, Joe kept watch on the ups and downs of the fishing fleet. He was good with his hands and loved doing the repairs and building projects himself. He maintained his literary output, and in Eastern Point turned his attention to the history of his home turf, then enlarged the scope in Boston’s North Shore and Boston’s Gold Coast. His work is marked by broad and meticulous research as well as photographic records, with an eye for the humorous detail, and a superb writing style.
In addition to authoring books, Joe involved himself in myriad civic issues, many through his column in the Gloucester Times, “Beating To Windward.” He often took a forward position and defended it against all comers. Ill-considered wars, waterfront development, environmental compromise, loss of local control of the hospital and water supply – all felt the sharpness of the Garland pen. Along with a gift for friendship spanning all ages and walks of life, Joe had a strong sense of what is right, and the fortitude to carry it out; a fortitude edging, on occasion, into Yankee contrarianess. Joe was not one to just go along, a quality well- known to all, in particular his gang of Morse and Sibley family friends, with whom he spent many an hour parsing the issues at Sailor Stan’s on Rocky Neck. He became renowned, too, as a provocative public speaker in his role as Gloucester historian. When Garland died he was in the midst of an unfinished manuscript with the draft title Boats Who Have Messed Around With Me, a colorful log of his boating life.
Joseph Garland is survived by his wife of almost 30 years, Helen Bryan Garland; her four children, Anna and her husband Bill Gannett, Janet, Alison and Robert Carlson and his wife Elizabeth; two daughters from his previous marriage to Rebecca Choate, Susan Choate Garland and Peggy Garland and her husband Stephen Tucker; and eleven grandchildren: Alden and Erica Freed; Emma, Robert, Alison and Anne Carlson; Theodore and Sarah Gannett; Abigail and Eli Spindel, and Molly Flomer and her husband Brandt; and a great-grandson, Theodore Flomer.
Plans will be announced for a celebration of Joe’s life to be held on or around the weekend of his birthday, September 30th.
For those wishing to make a contribution in Joe’s honor, please choose a cause you shared with Joe.