Donald Wayne Patrick, best known as the laconic master of the Dock Street Grill in Edgartown and who, as an elder in Alcoholics Anonymous for 32 years, provided a quiet example of strength and helped guide legions of men and women battling alcoholism on their own road to recovery, died Thursday, September 26, at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, following a long battle with cancer. He was 71.
Don was a native of Bangor, Maine. Following an eight year stint in the Army, he traveled to Martha’s Vineyard and went to work for Allan Miller, who had just built a new restaurant for Captain Robert Douglas, the Black Dog on Vineyard Haven Harbor. “Allan Miller taught him how to cook,” said Colleen Patrick, Mr. Patrick’s former wife and, late in his life, his loving caregiver.
“We were married for seven years and best friends for 40,” Ms. Patrick said.
Don worked at the Black Dog for 10 years and at Helios, the Greek restaurant in Tisbury, now gone, for six years before taking up his familiar spot for 26 years at the Dock Street Coffee Shop, where he gained a reputation for dispensing eggs quickly and words sparingly. When he did speak, it was straight and to the point.
“He would tell you like it is,” Ms. Patrick said, “whether you wanted to hear it or not.”
“It was like a small fishing village when I started, now it’s like a tourist trap,” Don told the Vineyard Gazette in an interview published following his retirement in 2012. “Some of the people who own businesses around here want all your money. I’d rather have a buck and a half for a cup of coffee and see you every day.”
One honor he was proud of was the informal title, “Best breakfast chef on the Island.” In his poem, “Don of Dock Street,” Edgartown poet laureate Steve Ewing described the coffee shop. “The rules he set are simple, the motto of, the place, there is no room for pretense, he’ll tell you to your face.”
Don is survived by a brother, Perley Patrick; his wife Carla of Red Hook, New Jersey; and two sons, Sean Patrick and Darren Patrick, of Vineyard Haven.
The date of a memorial service will be announced at a later time. Donations to assist with his burial expenses and the creation of a small memorial in his name may be sent to the Donald Patrick Memorial Fund, ℅ Sean Patrick, 82 Chase Lane, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.