The special election will fill the post left vacant by the murder of Pat Gregory.
West Tisbury selectmen voted unanimously at their weekly meeting on July 30 to choose a new town moderator at a special election held in conjunction with state and federal elections on November 4. Voters will be asked to choose a replacement for longtime moderator Francis “Pat” Gregory, who was murdered while hiking in northern California in May.
Mr. Gregory was found dead of a gunshot wound on May 16 on the Iron Canyon Trail off Highway 36E, north of Red Bluff, Calif. A companion who was hiking with him was wounded. They were robbed before being shot. Police continue to search for the murderer.
In other action Wednesday, selectmen discussed the use of the old police station building next to the Mill Pond, vacated when police moved into their new station on State Road this spring.
The 1,000-square-foot building is on a small lot and comes with a parking restriction of three vehicles. The lot is so small and so close to the Mill Pond that the septic system was sited on a neighboring residential lot owned by Peter and Beatrice Nessen with the condition that the lot would only be used for the police station.
Selectman Richard Knabel said that any change of use could invalidate the terms of the septic agreement and would give the Nessens the option of disconnecting the system. Chairman Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter said the Nessens have indicated that they would be willing to consider new tenants for the building.
Last month, a committee appointed by the selectmen to study the building’s use recommended that the building be leased to a nonprofit group but was not more specific.
Town administrator Jennifer Rand said that in order to meet state guidelines for the rental of municipal property at less than the best price, a request for proposals (RFP) would would have to identify specific public benefits as determined by the selectmen.
“The state is quite clear that if it is to be disposed of, and a lease is considered disposed of, for less than fair market value, a valid public purpose must be defined,” Ms. Rand said. “The primary purpose must be to promote the public welfare with a fair and open disposition.”
She said the board would have to determine what their goals are. She said that she will keep the Nessens informed of the town’s decisions.
Mr. Manter asked that the issue be put on the agenda for the next selectmen’s meeting, on August 6.
F. Patrick Gregory of West Tisbury died on May 16, 2014. While hiking on a beautiful remote trail in Red Bluff, California, he was the victim of a robbery and homicide.
Pat was born April 6, 1945, and was raised in the Adirondack Mountains and Plattsburgh, N.Y. He graduated from LeMoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., majoring in economics and math. Pat married Dorothy Lacombe weeks after graduating from college. He went on to receive Masters’ degrees from the University of Hawaii and Florida Institute of Technology.
Pat was a teacher at heart. Whether he was coaching a ball team, helping solve a computer problem, or playing with his grandchildren, he could make reluctant learners smile and try just a little harder. The Tisbury School brought Pat and his family here in 1971; he had no idea Martha’s Vineyard was an island.
He began teaching at the “new” West Tisbury School the first year it opened its doors, in 1974. For years Pat and Dorothy would rent out their Otis Bassett Road home and leave the Island to work at summer camps in Maine and New Hampshire. In 1991 he began serving West Tisbury as the town moderator, often calling on former students during debate.
For the past 30 years, Pat, alongside Dorothy, ran the family business of EduComp. Pat was instrumental in bringing computer technology to the Island. He served on numerous boards over the years including Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, M.V. Youth Soccer, M.V. Hospice, M.V. Public Charter School, Daybreak Club House, and he was an active participant in NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill). His most recent devotion was to Vineyard House, a safe home for those in addiction recovery, which is starting to build a campus in Vineyard Haven.
Pat’s life was never complete without sports. When he took on an activity, he did it with passion and an eye for data. A star athlete in high school basketball, Pat coached Little League in college and completed marathons in Newport and Boston. He started coaching soccer when his son was six years old and went on to become a soccer referee for the MVRHS team and recreational leagues. This past fall he came off the soccer sidelines when his grandson’s team needed a coach.
Golf provided hours of leisurely outdoor companionship with his “usual cast of characters.” Often he would go over to Mink Meadows by himself at the end of the day to shoot nine holes and be home in time for dinner. Neither rain nor cold could stop him.
Pat leaves behind many friends — too many to count. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; his daughter, Shannon, and son-in-law, Dan Carbon, of Edgartown, his son, Timothy, and his girlfriend, Chelsea Vandenameele, of Boynton Beach, Fla.; grandchildren Jack and Bess Carbon; his mother, Elizabeth Sullivan Gregory, and his sister, Kathy Heatherton, of Plattsburgh, N.Y.; as well as numerous other family members. Pat was predeceased by his father, Francis Gregory, his brother, Stephen Gregory and his sister, Mary Gregory.
A memorial service was celebrated at the West Tisbury Agricultural Hall on May 28, followed by a potluck. A private burial was held at the Lambert’s Cove Cemetery.
In life, Pat was a man of wisdom, warmth, and humor who gave greatly of himself. We know he would want to thank everyone for supporting our family with such grace throughout this most trying time.
Speakers at the service Wednesday remembered a man whose life, marked by civic and family commitment, was cut short.
Hundreds of stricken Islanders, and especially West Tisbury residents whose civic debates Pat Gregory moderated for 23 years, gathered on Wednesday afternoon at the Ag Hall to come to grips with Mr. Gregory’s death at the hands of a murderous robber in California. Husband, father, grandfather, teacher, businessman, friend, genial, optimistic, and modest, Pat — everyone called him Pat, and still do — had, over his years in residence and his leadership of municipal decision making, combined, in the minds of many, all the characteristics West Tisbury residents cherish in their neighbors.
Bright Celtic music welcomed the crowd, which by their numbers delayed the start of the scheduled 4 pm memorial service, but the tunes fell upon a solemn audience, given occasionally to deep silence. Somberly, friends greeted friends, and often in the hugs sadness and tears, flimsily dammed, threatened.
Besides the sadness, there was anger, as Pat’s daughter, Shannon Gregory Carbon, acknowledged. She said she understood that people were angry because of the circumstances of her father’s death, but she was affected otherwise. She had recalled, in her description of her father, that he held that “the stories we tell of each other keep people alive” after death, creating a sort of heaven on earth. Her father, she said, “knew of life’s sorrow, but he wasn’t impressed.”
On May 16, Francis Patrick Gregory, 69, and a 76-year-old friend and hiking companion from the small nearby town of Manton, California, were not far from a trailhead just off heavily traveled Highway 36E, north of the county seat of Red Bluff in Tehama County, when they encountered a man who robbed and then shot them. The men did not resist, police confirmed. Tehama County law enforcement is investigating, and the sheriff has said his department expects to arrest the robber though he has not discussed in detail the progress his detectives have made.
The cavernous Ag Hall was filled, an historic crowd many times larger than any over which Pat presided, or earlier in the annals of West Tisbury history. Cynthia Mitchell, a selectman, represented the town. She described Pat as a moderator with “boundless energy,” who mounted the meeting stage and grasped the podium delightedly, but who was careful and measured in his leadership, to allow civic debates to air all sides. And, most of all, he liked to “move things along,” and he would at times seize on a pause for breath in Ms. Mitchell’s official remarks at a meeting, to say, “Thank you, Cynthia,” as if she were finished, and then open the meeting to comments from voters. She was amused by what she called the “running joke” between Pat and her, but in the telling of it, she needed to pause often to compose herself.
Ms. Mitchell brought word that the Massachusetts House of Representatives, on a motion by state Representative Timothy Madden of Nantucket, suspended its business on May 19 for a moment of silence, to recognize Mr. Gregory’s public service.
Joseph M. Arceri, a friend of Pat’s since they were teenagers and at college together, recalled 50 years of their close association. He described Pat as an optimist, joyful, zestful, “everything was an adventure to Pat.” And, of Pat’s wife Dorothy, Mr. Arceri said, it was “always Pat and Dorothy.” The Arceris and the Gregorys had double dated in college, dined and vacationed together, and Pat, Mr. Arceri recalled, had often said that he had married the love of his life.
Daniel Lima Carbon, husband of Shannon and for the past four years a partner with the Gregorys in the Educomp business, said that as he and his father-in-law brainstormed about the future of their business, he was struck by Pat’s eagerness to move forward, even to take considered business risks. He wondered aloud whether Pat wouldn’t rather play more golf or travel more, or do whatever he liked. “Pat said, ‘I’m doing what I like.’ Pat was truly happy.”
Mr. Carbon thanked the Educomp staff — he said the Educomp “family” — for their unstinting support during the days since Pat’s death.
Mr. Arceri, whose fond memories of Pat were, he said, not intended as a eulogy, explained, “There’s no need for a eulogy for Pat. You all knew him. Everyone knew him, and he enjoyed all of those relationships. Knowing him is best.” But, Mr. Arceri added that if a eulogy were in order, his friends could “pay forward his goodness to others,” and that would do.
Molly Conole, a member of the Educomp staff, added the lovely “An Irish Blessing,” which she composed, sang, and accompanied on the flute – “May the road come up to meet you, and the wind be always at your back…”
An inspired choice in the occasion’s program, decorated with a photograph of Pat at the West Tisbury town meeting podium — also used on the low stage in the Ag Hall Wednesday — were these few and definitive lines by Robert Burns:
Lieutenant Yvette Borden, a spokesman for the Tehama County (California) Sheriff’s Office, said yesterday that there are no new leads in the investigation into the robbery and murder of Francis “Pat” Gregory.
Late Friday morning, on May 16, Mr. Gregory, 69, and his hiking companion, a 76-year-old male friend from the small nearby town of Manton, were not far from the trailhead just off heavily traveled Highway 36E when they encountered the man who robbed and then shot them.
Tehama County sheriff’s detectives are searching for a white Chevrolet Silverado that they said might be linked to the May 16 murder.
Lt. Borden, in an email to The Times Wednesday, said, “I have no new news. We are still looking for the vehicle and the driver as a person of interest. This person has not yet been identified.”
Ms. Borden said the surviving victim is still stable.
Police have not identified the man out of concern for his security and safety.
Last week, police released a sketch of the suspect and upped a reward for his arrest and subsequent prosecution and conviction from $1,500 to $5,000.
There will be a potluck gathering following the Wednesday service. Attendees are asked to bring a dish.
In honor of Mr. Gregory the West Tisbury town hall will close at 3:15 pm, Wednesday, the West Tisbury library will close at 3:30 and the Chilmark town hall will close from 3:30 until 5 pm.
In addition, the reception featuring the work of Ed Schulman, scheduled for 4 pm to 6:30 pm at the MV Film Center, has been rescheduled for Thursday, June 5 from 4 pm to 6:30.
However accustomed to the rhythms of life we think we’ve become, unimaginable events intrude and overtake our faculties and our capacity for comprehension and expression. Pat Gregory, a man of rare centrality to Vineyard life, has been mindlessly taken away from us; we are angry and diminished and chilled, reminded again that we borrow but never own the instruments of civility which nourish and protect our community.
Pat Gregory’s individual acts of kindness, the range of his interests, his sacrifices to the public exercise of citizenship, and his grace and humility made him of our community in a unique way. Ever the teacher, Pat’s legacy is not the hole that his death has left behind, it’s the caring friend and neighbor he’s shown we each can be.
What follows is a selection of the more than 70 reader comments posted to MVTimes.com.
We are all the richer for having known Pat and all the poorer for losing his gentlemanly presence. He showed us that it is possible to remain civil to one another when there are so many examples of the opposite in our world. My heart goes out to Dorothy and all their family & friends.
My heart goes out to this wonderful family. Pat has always been a very personable individual whose caring seemed unending. The family and all whom he was involved with have lost a great friend. May you rest in peace my friend and may your family find comfort. You will be greatly missed. My heart aches at the loss of such a gentleman.
Beyond horrible. There was not a nicer, more genuine, universally beloved person than Pat. Though I don’t know his family but if they are reading this, please know that I am one of thousands here in your community thinking of you, here for you, and mourning Pat. I’m also reminiscing about some funny conversations we’d have when randomly bumping into each other on Main St about how technology is supposed to work but, even as computer people, how sometimes we’d shake our heads at how it refused to cooperate. This is a tragic loss and the shock is impossible to measure.
Pat Gregory was always a terrific supporter of the Island schools and actively advised and helped us implement then unknown technologies. He was able to work with anyone in such a friendly and engaging way. It’s hard to make meaning from this, but Pat’s life was truly of note.
My sincere sympathies to the “Gregory” family. I have known Pat through soccer when his grandson, Jack, played with my grandson. Pat pitched right in and helped coach! I previously knew him from the Tribe, and the computer tech work he did with and for us. I am a loyal customer to his store as well. He will be so missed by the West Tisbury community, and the Island. I am filled with grief for his wife and family, and just to say: This world was a better place for Pat being in it. My prayers are with his family at this time. I am so very sorry.
The Tehama County Sheriff’s office is offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the capture of the man who murdered Pat Gregory. They accept donations to the reward fund. If you want to add to the reward for the capture of Pat’s murderer, send a check to Tehama County Sheriff’s Office, Secret Witness Program, P.O. Box 729, Red Bluff, CA 96080.
Please be sure to indicate you are contributing to the reward fund for the murder of Francis Patrick Gregory.
Although I never met Pat Gregory, I am profoundly saddened by his shocking and senseless murder. He represented the highest values of the Martha’s Vineyard community. My heartfelt condolences especially to his family and friends, and also to Vineyarders who, like me, didn’t know him but will feel the loss of his generous spirit very much.
Bemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare For The Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse. Her combined knowledge of both this island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Interested in Nicole’s take on your messy Vineyard-centric ethics or etiquette question? Confidentiality ensured. Send your question to OnIsland@mvtimes.com
processes grief publicly
in amazing ways
-Beckie Scotten Finn
There were a couple of questions (and answers) ready to go for this week’s Ps and Qs. But something horrible has happened. On the other side of the continent, a random act of violence resulted in a tragedy that touches much of the Island. A lot of us, including me, are struggling to make sense of it.
Between social media and the close-knitness of the Island community, much of that struggle is happening not only publicly but communally. We’re collectively constructing an ongoing eulogy. On Facebook, on blogs, in comments posted to both papers’ online sections, on a board outside the Educomp building, in flags flying at half-mast and lilacs left on beach rocks and black ribbons pinned on jackets.
There is a difference between public grief and private grief. Nothing that I’m writing here is about private grief, which is intensely personal and largely defies words anyhow. The family’s private grief comes before anyone else’s; as long as we respect that there’s not really much else to say publicly about private grief.
But existing parallel to all the private grief is a unified collective loss felt by the community. Such a broad-spectrum extended wake, especially in the aftermath of a homicide, is a powerful and healing thing. It also engenders stuff that isn’t par for the bereavement course.
Phebe Bates created a ribbon tribute icon on Facebook and invited people to use it as their profile picture; Educomp has provided actual ribbons on the front stoop of the building for people to wear. Other artists shared artwork online. In some case it was created to mark the event; in other cases it is presented as a symbolic offering.
In a Facebook group called The Haiku Room, a number of Vineyarders including me (and Ms. Finn, see above) have been distilling sorrow and fury into 17 syllables.
Some examples: Lara O’Brien: “a sun filled weekend,/bright with youth’s energy, fell/dark with a life stolen.”
Mine: “Earth’s orbit wobbles/when a man made of goodness/dies of savagery.”
Samantha Chronister Greene: “Iron Canyon trail/Iron Canyon… I can’t move/past this empty place.”
(Here’s another of mine because I needed a little dark humor: “Dear Mathematics:/I only ever liked you for/His sake. We’re through.”)
Some people also find comfort and inspiration in others’ work. Becky Cournoyer posted a central passage from Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird because it captured for her the essence of the wrong. It resonated with a lot of people (made me cry – still does):
“Atticus said to Jem one day, ‘I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. ‘Your father’s right,’ she said. ‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.'”
As anti-technology as I sometimes feel, I’m very grateful that social media has allowed this kind of communal keening. That said, my favorite instance of transformative collective mourning is necessarily real-world.
Last Sunday evening, on very short notice, a group of several dozen long-time Islanders came together on Lamberts Cove Beach to be sad together. Although I hadn’t been formally invited, I happened to show up when it began and was immediately embraced by Susan Goldstein, one of the organizers and (more years ago than either of us will admit to) my Jr. High School English teacher. The gathering was beautiful, simple, sad and moving. After it was over, elements of it found their way into social media; people posted photos, the papers ran articles.
Many participants had brought flowers, especially lilacs; some of these remained behind on a large rock near the path back to the parking lot. The flowers were still there Monday, starting to wilt and sere in the salty air. They were still there Tuesday morning.
Mid-day Tuesday, I was walking on the beach when I noticed an unfamiliar young woman picking through what remained of the flowers. She was finding sprigs and weaving them into a beautiful, fragrant garland. I stopped to talk to her. She hadn’t known why the flowers were there, and expressed concern that I’d find her actions disrespectful. I didn’t. She had taken the saddest part of our sadness and literally transformed it into something new and innocently beautiful. What a perfect metaphor for the purpose of communal grieving. If I’d had a camera with me, I’d have taken a photo of the wreath and sent it Susan. I didn’t so instead I’m sharing this story.
As communities go, we’re very good at this: the impromptu gatherings, the Facebook message threads, the moments of silence held by the many groups directly touched by this great loss. It’s a garland we should continue to weave.