Richard J. DeBettencourt

Richard J. DeBettencourt

Richard J. DeBettencourt of Oak Bluffs died peacefully on Sunday, November 3, 2013 at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital with his family at his side. He was 84.

The son of John A. and Marion (Pachico) DeBettencourt, Richard was born on May 30, 1929 at 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, serving five years, including the Korean War. During this time, students back on the Vineyard were being assigned a serviceman as part of their schoolwork to be pen pals with. 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 they married December 30, 1953. They were able to celebrate 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 masters 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, residing 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 o’clock boat with his family, coming 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 pm 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 some 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 his wife, Jayne, of Oak Bluffs, granddaughter Kimberly of Vail, Colo.,, and granddaughter Kathryn and her 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 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, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs will be held on Wednesday evening, Nov. 6, from 5 to 7 pm.

His funeral mass will be celebrated in Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Massasoit Ave., Oak Bluffs on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 11 am. Burial will follow in the Sacred Heart Cemetery, Vineyard Avenue, Oak Bluffs with military honors provided by the Veterans of M.V.

Donations may be made in his memory to Hope Hospice, PO Box 4188 or to the Vineyard Nursing Association, 455 State Road, both in Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or to the M.V. Hospital, PO Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

Please visit for online guest book and information.