Richard J. DeBettencourt of Oak Bluffs died peacefully on Sunday, Nov. 3 at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital with his family at his side. He was 84.
He was the son of John A. and Marion (Pachico) DeBettencourt. Richard was born on May 30, 1929 at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He was raised on the Vineyard, graduating from Oak Bluffs High School in 1947. On a bit of a whim, he enlisted in the Air Force and served for five years, including during the Korean War. During this time, students back on the Vineyard were being assigned a serviceman pen pal as part of their schoolwork. An “eye-catching” young student named Vivian Combra was assigned to him. It was love at first correspondence, as they say. When he returned stateside, they began dating and married Dec. 30, 1953. They celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary last December.
Upon returning home, Richard also enrolled and subsequently graduated with a teaching degree from Boston University in 1956, continuing and receiving his master’s degree from the university in 1957. He secured a teaching position in Framingham, where he taught for 33 years, retiring in 1990. He taught both physical education (17 years, particularly enjoying his gymnastic shows) and science (16 years, 13 as department chair) during his tenure. He resided in nearby Holliston with his family during his entire teaching career. He was the Framingham varsity tennis coach for 15 years, and was briefly president of the teachers union.
Richard’s home, however, was always the Vineyard at heart. Literally the day school ended he would make the 5 p.m. boat with his family to the Vineyard for the summer. He would insist on leaving Labor Day, and not a day before, to return to start a new teaching year. Richard worked various jobs on the Vineyard in the summer, as he enjoyed keeping busy and the camaraderie of being with people He worked for Whitings milk company as a driver, starting early to finish by 1 p.m. in case it was a good day for a round of golf. He was an assistant manager at The Boston House, and was tennis professional at the Edgartown Yacht Club for 13 years.
Richard loved sports, particularly the Red Sox and Celtics back in the days of Bill Russell and then Larry Bird. His enthusiasm for sports rubbed off on both of his children. He was a wonderful husband, a truly caring and compassionate father and an absolutely amazing grandfather. He was a great guy and friend to all who knew him.
Richard is survived by his loving wife, Vivian; his daughter, Gail, of Bourne; his son, Douglas, and wife Jayne from Oak Bluffs; granddaughter Kimberly of Vail, Colo.; and granddaughter Kathryn and husband Nicholas Townes of Oak Bluffs. He leaves three sisters: Ruthie Metell of Oak Bluffs, Gaynell Downs of South Hadley and Brenda Fredericks of Fitchburg. He was predeceased by his brothers, John (Junior) and Melvin, and sisters Geraldine and Violet Rego.
He will be painfully missed but never forgotten.
Visiting hours in the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs were held on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
His funeral mass was celebrated in Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Massasoit avenue in Oak Bluffs on Thursday, Nov. 7. Interment followed in the Sacred Heart Cemetery on Vineyard avenue in Oak Bluffs, with military honors provided by the Veterans of Marthas Vineyard.
Donations may be made in his memory to Hope Hospice, P.O. Box 4188, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, the Vineyard Nursing Association, 455 State Road- PMB 312, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or the Marthas Vineyard Hospital, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.
An online guest book is available at ccgfuneralhome.com.