McCarthy, Vince

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                                           VINCE MCCARTHY
                                      An icon in the community
                                            By Alison Lynch


Vince McCarthy is an icon in the community of Nelson-Miramichi. He just doesn’t realize it.

To call the 85-year-old ‘modest’ is an understatement.

The former mayor of Nelson has managed the Beaubear Credit Union, been president of the Beaubear Co-operative, and became Grand Knight for both the Chatham and Nelson Knights of Columbus.

He has been honoured with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award, given by the Rotary Club in recognition of outstanding contributions to the community, and the William Dollard Medal, from the diocese of Saint John, recognizing, says the ever humble Vince, “the perceived work I have done for the church.”

But unless you ask his wife, Dorothy, you’re unlikely to hear about any of it. That’s because Vince takes little credit for his work. “I think this place is a whole lot better off since he lived here,” Dorothy said. “But of course, I’m prejudiced.”

Prejudiced or not, the community agrees. The Co-op and Credit Union bot have a photo of Vince on their walls, commemorating the work he’s done in the community he loves.

Born in Semiwagan Ridge in 1919, Vince moved to Nelson at the age of five. “And I’ve been here ever since,” said the 85-year-old who still resides in his childhood home.

He led his class at Harkins Academy and went on to complete high school at St. Thomas College in Chatham. “I was awful clever, but I wasn’t very smart,” he said, eyes twinkling. “But they passed me, whether I deserved it or not.”

Vince was the eldest in a family of three brothers and four sisters, but says he wasn’t quite paternal by nature. “At the time, when I was a kid, I didn’t look out for anyone else,” he said.

That would quickly change. In 1938, his father passed on. Within three years, both his grandmother and mother had also died, leaving 22-year-old Vince with a family of orphans. He recalls the time with a shaky voice and teary eyes.

‘We were in that situation until I found a wife, way back in Nowlanville,” he says softly. “He told me there were no mosquitos here,” added Dorothy with a smile.

The two met in November of 1939. Dorothy, a teacher at the Nowlanville school, was walking home after work on a rainy evening, when Vince picked her up. “We did not see each other very often, but it was the beginning of a lifelong love affair,” recalled Dorothy in the book Dolan-Desmond Family: A History.

Vince shares a similar recollection. “I knew from the beginning that this would be a lifelong relationship,” he wrote in the history.

They were married in 1945 and Dorothy quickly became a mother figure to Vince’s younger siblings. “At the time, she was enamoured. She couldn’t see anyone but me,” joked Vince. “They were good people,” said Dorothy, “a wonderful family.”

Vince’s siblings all stayed in school, and went on to become teachers, nurses, and join the air force. “One by one, they left to do whatever they were going to do,” recalled Dorothy.

By then, however, the couple had their “replacements” in place. Their first child came in 1946. Seventeen years later, the family was complete with the birth of their eighth child.

Vince spent his life in lumberyards, working at George Burchill and Sons for 43 years. He graduated as a forestry technician in 1947, a member of the first graduating class of the Fredericton Forest Ranger School. His career in local politics began when the push was on to make Nelson-Miramichi a village. He ran and was elected one of the three councillors. Vince served one term, then work and family commitments took precedent. ‘I didn’t lose interest in the village at the time; I just didn’t have the time to dedicate,” he explained.

When Mayor Joe Wallace passed away in the late ‘80s, a semi-retired Vince was elected in a by-election. He was later elected for a second term, this time by acclamation. He stepped down after completing this term, fulfilling a commitment to himself to only serve two terms.

Today, in Vince’s childhood home, photographs by the stairs tell the tales of the house’s history. Vince’s parents stare solemnly from a black and white portrait. Pictured next are Vince’s six younger siblings, followed by Vince and Dorothy’s eight children.

Now, school pictures from four of their 17 grandchildren join the older ones, since a daughter and her family have returned to the McCarthy home. As Vince and Dorothy exchange smiles from opposite ends of their dining room table and gush about their grandkids, their happiness is obvious.

“I think I made a good choice when I was young and foolish,” said Dorothy when asked about her husband. After a moment’s pause, she adds, “Or maybe the Lord did.”


Source: Miramichi Leader – July 27, 2004

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