Robert W. Sylvia

Robert W. Sylvia, 86, a fixture on Fairhaven’s working waterfront for decades and a preeminent diesel mechanic servicing thousands of commercial marine vessels over many years, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 in Lady Lake, Florida, after a period of declining health.

            Born and raised in Mattapoisett, Bob was the son of the late Albert and Anna (Morgado) Sylvia. Bob was a graduate of Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School and several specialized schools related to the diesel industry. He served in the U.S. Army Reserves in the 1960s.

            Bob settled in Fairhaven where he lived most of his life. He began his lengthy career in the marine industry in 1961 as a diesel mechanic. Bob became well known to hundreds of captains and boat owners as the head mechanic and shop leader at D.N. Kelley & Son Inc. (Now Fairhaven Shipyard Co. Inc.) in Fairhaven. In 1992, Bob opened his own GM marine engine repair business, Fairhaven Diesel, which he ran until his retirement in 2003.

            When not keeping the area fleet’s fishing and working vessels running safe and trustworthy, Bob enjoyed driving the 1923 Ford Model-T “T-bucket” hot rod he built himself. He also loved woodworking, fishing, ballroom dancing, and playing cards with his friends.

            He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Marie (Rose) Sylvia, a brother, Raymond Sylvia of Everest, Kansas, a son Robert W. Sylvia Jr. and his wife Tracie of New Orleans, Louisiana, his grandchildren Cameron Sylvia and Maghan Landi, a great-grandchild, Ezekiel M. Sylvia, and several nieces and nephews. Robert was predeceased by his brother, Albert Sylvia Jr.

            A memorial service is being planned for later this summer in Lady Lake with arrangements by Baldwin Brothers Funeral & Cremation Society of Wildwood, Florida.

            In lieu of flowers, donations may be

made to the American Heart Association (, to help fund lifesaving research, advocate for healthier communities, improve patient care and work for equitable health for all people.

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