I first met Vince in 2011 as he was preparing for his 50th-year class reunion at Saint John's. Vince had volunteered to help organize for the event, and in his case that meant two prime activites. So it was that during the year leading up to the reunion he reached out to classmates to encourage their attendance. Then he showed his true dedication by helping to raise funds for the class gift in support of the University.
From the start I could see that Vince was a dedicated Johnnie, and I asked him what it was about Saint John's that had inspired his loyal support. In response Vince explained that he had never experienced a great "aha moment" while he was at Saint John's. On the other hand, however, the place began to have an impact on him as soon as he set foot on campus. He recalled how welcoming the Saint John's community was when he first arrived, and a sense of family seemed to pervade the place. That, he reported, was very different from his high school experience, where "every man for himself" seemed to be the order of the day. So in his mind the impact of Saint John's on his daily life emerged only slowly, over time; but it continues to deepen, even today.
When I asked Vince if I might tell a bit of his story in Advancing Saint John's, he readily agreed. In the same breath he suggested that there really wasn't much to distinguish him from so many other Johnnies. But then he checked himself, and he offered one item that he thought might be of interest. Perhaps it might even be unique to him; and it had to do with his career at General Mills. When it came time to retire he realized that there remained one priority yet unfinished. And so, to help support Saint John's and his other philanthropic interests, he decided to postpone his retirement. To me that counted as "interesting;" and if his decision was not unique, it was at least new to me.
Vince described the process that led to this decision in these words. "When I graduated in 1963 I was intrigued by the Peace Corps but was too timid to take the plunge -- opting instead to wait until after I retired. When that time came, I felt I could make a bigger difference by working longer and financially supporting the efforts of others."
Vince finally did retire, but he continues to volunteer. Among his many activities is one he calls "Chores for Charity," in which he does handyman work for folks who have the ability to pay but lack the physical capacity to do the work themselves. The money he earns he then donates to charity, and the jobs have been diverse. He's hung pictures, painted houses, trimmed hedges and fabricated a garden gate -- all in support of causes he sees as important and vital for the lives of others.
As for Saint John's, Vince and his wife Jean continue their support, just as they have done for so many years. Today they are generous contributors to the Student Fund, to scholarships and to the Abbey; and they've taken advantage of the matching gift program at General Mills to augment their efforts. For over thirty years Vince and Jean have been giving back, and clearly from such important work there can be no retirement.