Chatham Provides Trish And David Vincent With A Vibrant Retirement

By: Debra Lawless

 Trish and David Vincent with their dog, Poppy. DEBRA LAWLESS PHOTO

How do you retire to Chatham and pursue a vibrant life in the community?

Trish and David Vincent seem to have unlocked the secret.

They arrived here on Halloween 2001 and have been active ever since in their North Chatham neighborhood, in boating and in wildlife care.

“You’ve got to respect where you’ve come to and not change it,” David Vincent said during an interview in their sunny home one afternoon last week. Joining the conversation was their Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Poppy. “Like our house. We wanted it to be Capey. We don’t irrigate our lawn.

“Not to say you might not privately eat some Marmite,” David adds, and laughs. Marmite is, of course, “a British food spread made from yeast extract,” as Marmite’s own website puts it. The taste is indescribable, and loved solely by the British, which David is by birth. Trish, also British, describes herself as “not a huge Marmite fan.” Her taste runs more to Bovril, “a thick and salty meat extract paste.”

In 1981 the Vincents left their 1776 house back in England when David’s work with Chemical Bank brought the pair to the U.S. It was to be a relatively brief stint of a few years, but they “got here and loved it,” as David says. Over the course of five years they and their two young children lived in four towns ranging from New Canaan, Conn. to Chadds Ford, Pa. While David worked, Trish was a stay-at-home mom and volunteered at various places. Eventually she worked in a friend’s boutique. Time stretched out, and the family settled in Chatham, N.J., where they remained for 16 years until David’s retirement and the couple’s subsequent move to Chatham, Mass.

In their new neighborhood they dove into the swim of things. When they arrived, the neighborhood consisted largely of retired couples, and it was a social place with fun gatherings year-round. “We really made most of our friends in the neighborhood,” David says, adding that Trish is a great cook and they hosted many dinner parties.

For six years Trish served as secretary of the Harbor Coves Improvement Association, and for two years as president. She served for nine years as commodore of the neighborhood’s yacht club. When she stepped down, David took over as commodore for the second time.

One of Trish’s passions is Wild Care in Eastham. For years she was on call seven days a week during daylight hours. Her territory extended from Chatham over to Harwich Port and Brewster. In the trunk of her car she carried nets, heavy duty welding gloves, goggles, blankets, towels and a crate. Once she walked almost to the Harding's Beach Light to rescue a bird. She is familiar with rescuing gannets and cormorants which have “nasty beaks—they want to kill you.” She has nursed baskets of baby squirrels by administering, with a syringe, puppy formula with plain yogurt added. Her largest rescue was a swan near Cranberry Lane. For that, David accompanied her.

Trish learned to knit at age five, and these days she knits with Holy Redeemer’s knitting ministry. She has knitted prayer shawls, hats for oncology patients and baby sweaters. Trish is also a member of the Chatham Garden Club and is on a team tending the gardens at the Chatham Fish Pier.

As for David’s volunteer activities, Trish says he “has salt water in his veins,” so it is appropriate that many of his activities revolve around the water. His grandfather skippered a trawler on the North Sea, and Trish and David both grew up in what was, in the middle of the 20th century, a town with the largest fishing fleet in the world. But the fishing industry in Grimsby collapsed, in part because of the decline in codfish, and the town fell on hard times. After 38 years in the U.S., both Vincents say that England now feels like a foreign country when they visit their many family members there.

So, having grown up on the water, David joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary because he wanted to know more about boating. A friend helped him take his sailing “to a whole new level” by teaching him “the tricks of the trade.” David has frequently won sunfish races on Crow’s Pond. He is currently involved with Pleasant Bay Community Boating’s Program for the blind and vision impaired and acts as the sighted person on the boat once a week in the summer.

David says he does these things because he enjoys them—“you tend to be way better at them” when you enjoy the activities, he said. He runs T’ai Chi classes at the community center and acts as moderator at the Chatham Men’s Club.

While the couple is busy, they of course have time for visits from their grandchildren. In fact, when they remodeled their house they created a bunkroom that has slept six grandkids.

“Trish and I continuously pinch ourselves and say, ‘do we live here?’” David says.