K5VT - Rest in Peace OM

Vince was one of the founding members of the Voodoo Contest Group having first joined the team at TY5A, Benin in 1995. He made a further nine visits to Africa with the group.

He was a medical doctor, as well as a world-class operator and thus was a high contributor to the group on both counts. Although the team only ever had minor ailments (insect bites, heat-stroke, "African belly"), he did once save the life of a young girl who nearly drowned in the pool of a Ouagadougou hotel, though Vince being so modest, he never talked about it.

Vince passed away in 2010 after a short illness and the Voodoo team honoured his memory by operating as 9L5VT from Sierra Leone that year.

The following article is by Roger G3SXW

He was one of those big, quiet types – he didn’t say a lot but when he did speak everyone listened. He had a presence just when walking into a room. And yet so humble. We miss him terribly after his rapid demise to leukaemia.

There are so many Vince stories that it’s hard to know where to begin! On a serious note, one night I kept him up talking until 4am in a Dayton hotel bedroom. I was going through a divorce and needed a friend. He listened so patiently and kindly. I never forget his generosity on that night.

There was the time in Ouagadougou when he saved the life a little girl who was fished out of the bottom of the hotel swimming pool. He was a big man but he moved so fast! It took what seemed like several minutes of resuscitation while the hotel clientele was frozen in silence.

On a lighter note, that event by chance followed an occasion that evening where I had ordered a scotch and soda at the pool-side bar but was then called away to the telephone while the drinks were brought to table. We never accept ice in drinks in West Africa but mine came with ice. He tipped the ice into a nearby bush – and tipped my scotch out with it! Of course he immediately replaced the drink but we ragged him about that for a long while!

He was very fond of tomato ketchup. In Mali one time the regular waitress in the hotel restaurant was asked every lunch and every dinner to bring a bottle of ketchup. I then explained to her that Vince liked it on everything. Later, she delivered the ice cream dessert and asked him if he would like ketchup on that! Our group laughed until it hurt – a not uncommon experience with the VooDudes.

Being a surgeon Vince was always a well controlled individual. He seldom let his hair all the way down but on just a couple of occasions he decided, intentionally, to do so. At the end of every 48-hour contest it was traditional to have a small party, swap war-stories, talk about next year and so forth. In The Gambia Vince had decided to let his hair down and he did so in style. As the contest finished he suddenly appeared with a half-gallon of gin and a crate of tonics. We proceeded to party, sitting on the veranda of our hotel room. I’ve seen Vince drunk maybe at most three times in all my 40 year friendship with him but on that night he got drunk and when Vince drank too much he became hilariously funny, I mean side-achingly, side-splittingly funny. The down-side was that as he drank he got louder and louder, with his resonant Oklahoma voice. The sequel to this story is that the next morning the main Manager of this large hotel came to inform us that other guests on both sides of our room had complained about the noise. They were thoroughly justified to do so – our party lasted until at least 3am. What did Vince do? He got a taxi, went down town, reappeared with two bottles of scotch and presented them to our room neighbours with his abject apologies. That evening both neighbours joined us on our veranda, clutching their newly acquired bottles of scotch and we all proceeded to get to know each other famously! What a guy!

He had his pet sayings. When I’m with Mike KC7V or Ned AA7A or Lee KY7M I only have to answer them with “You don’t say” or “Is that right?” and they beam with a warm smile of understanding.

Perhaps I should end at the beginning, so to speak. We met the first time at an FOC dinner in Connecticut in 1977. I was there with my new Iranian wife who, though I say it myself, was a really beautiful lady. Vince was there with his really beautiful girl-friend, Elaine. I had finally got my transmitting licence, EP2IA, but needed a QSL Manager, as the postal system in Iran was pretty poor. I had asked in the FOC News Sheet for help and he had offered to perform that role for me. So, of course I approached him to say thank you but another American member had already volunteered. The four of us hit off instantly, like peaches & cream, a magical moment. We spent the next few days together in Baltimore and a life-long friendship was begun. I miss you, Vince!

G3SXW K5VT at K7WP's QTH in January 2009.