Edward "Tad" Sanchez III, 48

Fri, 07/01/2016 - 10:00am
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Edward O. “Tad” Sanchez III of Newport, Rhode Island, and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, passed away peacefully in Jupiter, Florida on June 2, 2016, after a valiant and courageous battle with cancer. He was 48.

Tad was born in the seafaring city of New Bedford, Mass., on Oct. 13, 1967, the eldest child of Captain Edward Sanchez Jr. and Gail (Fuller) Sanchez. He was the grandson of Capt. Edward Sanchez and Helen Sanchez, and William and Amy Fuller. 

Tad spent most of his childhood years in Dartmouth, Mass., as well as the waterfront of New Bedford working various jobs with his father and grandfather in the family marine towing, salvage and repair business, E.S. Marine. It was here and on Block Island that he began a lifelong love of the sea that generations of the Sanchez family shared. 

Tad traced his roots to the earliest mariners to arrive in this country from Spain, landing in Florida centuries ago and traveling up the coast in the late 1800s to arrive in New England and eventually Block Island. It was on Block Island that the Sanchez family mastered fishing, salvaging and other marine trades. By most accounts, they owned one of the most admired and largest fishing schooners on Block Island in the early 1900s, Starbuck, which was sunk while fishing near a German U-boat on Georges Bank in World War I. Along with other island boats, they bravely attempted to save souls from the wreck of the Larchmont disaster off Watch Hill in 1907 on the schooner Theresa. The citation to the Sanchez family given by the Carnegie Hero Commission still hangs in the family’s home on Spring Street as recognition of their heroism.

Tad spent all of his summers during his childhood and school years in the 1970s and 1980s on Block Island. He, like many island youth, worked various jobs at the big hotels. Tad bell-hopped at the Narragansett Inn, rented bicycles at the Surf Hotel, and worked at other island establishments. By this time, the fishing industry on Block Island had been significantly diminished, and Tad “greenhorned” on a scalloper out of New Bedford for a summer working Georges Bank and other New England fishing grounds. He earned a significant sum of money for his efforts and was the envy of his friends that summer. 

He entered Tabor Academy, in Marion, Mass., in 1982, where he excelled as a three-sport athlete in football, wrestling, and lacrosse, graduating in 1986. It was here that he began to develop and refine significant talent as an artist, that would continue for many years. Tad’s focus was in historic architecture and maritime art, and his skills belied the fact that he had little formal training, only exhibiting his work sparingly. Many consider his oil painting "Steamers at New Harbor, 1905(see photo), which he worked and reworked over many years in the 1990s to be his masterpiece. His wife and many of his friends can attest to the fact that he was never quite satisfied with it.

Tad entered Northeastern University in Boston in 1986 and graduated in 1992. After graduation, he lived for many years in Boston, developing an interest in the performing arts, while continuing to assist his father and grandfather in the family marine business in New Bedford. Tad was also a licensed pilot and for many years in the 1990s enjoyed flying family and friends in and around coastal New England.

As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, he worked as an extra in many major Hollywood films, including "A Civil Actionstarring John Travolta, "Meet Joe Black" with Anthony Hopkins and most recently "Here Comes the Boom" with Henry Winkler, which were all filmed in Boston and Rhode Island.

On a beautiful summer day in September of 2002, Tad married Colleen Elizabeth Dolan, in a ceremony on Crescent Beach with a reception at the Sullivan House on Indian Head Neck. The Dolan family arrived on Block Island and hosted many family and friends that weekend on their sailing ketch Knickerbocker, berthed at a slip at Payne’s Dock. It was considered one of the finest vessels to sail into New Harbor in recent memory. 

While living in Newport, Tad and Colleen spent a few summers on Block Island in the early 2000s and successfully took on the challenge of reviving the Fred Benson Beach Pavilion after years of disrepair. The two eventually settled in Newport and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida but continued to visit Block Island many times a year, staying with Tad’s mother, Gail, on Spring Street as he did during his youth, always cherishing joyous times spent with family and friends.   

In recent years, Tad worked at his family business, Buzzards Bay Realty, and maintained homes in Newport as well as Florida, where he put his skills as a carpenter to work. He also continued his passion for competitive sailing. He particularly enjoyed the teamwork and camaraderie of these adventures, both on and off the boat. He was a team member of some of the most magnificent racing yachts ever built such as Titan, Harrier, Shockwave, Akela, Encore and Laura (KZ-5). His friends believed Tad had “perfected” his family’s impressive and centuries-old maritime tradition by sailing on the finest vessels on the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and off New England in the same waters his ancestors sailed.

True to his love of the sea up until his last weeks, Tad was supervising construction of a dock at he and his wife’s home in Florida. His last contribution to the sailing community was as a race committee member for Block Island Race Week, 2015. While he was looking forward to another sail to Block Island or into Newport, unfortunately this was not to be.

Tad had many talents, though for those close to him and those who knew him through the years on Block Island, New Bedford, Newport, and ports and seas beyond, it was not what he painted or built or sailed on that will be remembered, but how you felt when you were with him. 

And while his journey was shorter than anticipated, his was always with tightly trimmed sails, spinnaker up on a warm summer breeze, with all flags proudly flying, and yours for a fair tide… 

Tad leaves his wife Colleen Dolan; sister Melissa (Sanchez) O’Reilly, her husband Edward and their son Aidan; and his grandmother Helen Sanchez. Additional survivors are aunt Arlene (Fuller) Cloutier and aunt Lynn (Sanchez) Paquin and their children. 

A memorial service will be held at the Church of St. Gregory the Great at Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth, on Saturday, July 30, 2016, at 1 p.m. There will be an open house at the home of Tad and Colleen on 11 Byrnes Street in Newport from 3 to 8 p.m. 

A graveside service on Block Island at the Island Cemetery will be held on Sunday, July 31, at 1 p.m. with reception to follow at The Sullivan House.

Remembrances may be made to a charity of your choice, or the American Cancer Society at P.O. Box 22478, Oklahoma City, OK 73123.