St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands held a special place in the heart of fifth-generation Provincetown volunteer firefighter Brian David Alexander. His job in security for Cape Air introduced him to the islands, where he later staged a surprise marriage proposal to Gloria D’Andrea, the engagement ring hidden in a camera bag concealed on the beach.
This year he planned a special trip to St. Thomas to give his sister Holly her first tropical vacation with her Marine veteran husband, Josh Bixby. “He always thought of his family first,” said Brian’s wife, Gloria. It was during this trip, on Jan. 30, that Brian died suddenly “while enjoying the ocean he loved so dearly,” Gloria said. He was 60.
The son of Warren Alexander and Margaret Tinkham, Brian was born on June 27, 1962. He grew up in Provincetown. He learned carpentry at his grandfather Bill White’s knee. He was also diagnosed with a seizure disorder. Though that made his dream of serving in the military as a pilot and later becoming a policeman unrealizable, it did not prevent him from living a life of service. “Everything he did,” Gloria said, “he did with passion.”
At Provincetown High School, Brian played all four years on the baseball and hockey teams; according to the 1978 Long Pointer, he was the second line center on a hockey team that had realistic ambitions for the Cape and Islands championship. Brian graduated in 1980. His baseball career looked like it would extend beyond high school, but a ligament injury cut down the speed of his fastball.
When he was a teenager, Brian served as a junior firefighter for the Provincetown Volunteer Fire Dept., and after high school he became a regular and attained the rank of lieutenant, continuing a family tradition. He represented the fifth generation of Alexander family service, spanning more than a century.
Brian served under his father, who was chief during the Feb. 10, 1998 Whalers Wharf fire. After Sept. 11, 2001, he volunteered to help clear debris from the Twin Towers in New York City, which he hoped might still be a rescue mission, Gloria said.
In addition to having carpentry skills, he was a talented mechanic who, during high school, had his own small mobile ship maintenance business. He also used to free dive for lobsters off Race Point. Although his ambition in high school was to become a diesel mechanic, Brian went into construction and ran his own general contracting business.
It was through the construction business that Brian met the love of his life, Gloria. She had come to Provincetown at 19 wanting to live in a place where she could work outside. She began as a laborer, learned carpentry, obtained a builder’s license, and opened her own business. Brian met her at the Berta Walker Gallery in 2001 when he asked, “What perfume are you wearing?” Gloria said. From that moment on, the two did everything together.
“Brian was a risk taker,” Gloria said, “and he was completely bonded to Provincetown.” When asked where he was from, she added, he would say, “I came off the Mayflower.”
As an athlete, a firefighter, a builder, a fisherman, an organic gardener, and the father of two sons, Brian lived a full and rich life whose memory, Gloria said, “will be carried forever by those who knew and loved him.”
Brian is survived by his wife, Gloria D’Andrea, of Provincetown and sons Bryson and Hunter; his father, Warren Alexander, of Provincetown and his mother, Margaret Tinkham, and stepfather, John Tinkham, of Eastham; and siblings Glenn Alexander, Holly Bixby, Renee Gervais, and Keith Alexander.
A public viewing was held on Feb. 12 at the Nickerson Funeral Home in Wellfleet, and a Funeral Mass was celebrated at Saint Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown on Feb. 13.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Brian’s memory may be made to the Provincetown Firemen’s Association, 25 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown 02657.
For online condolences, visit nickersonfunerals.com.