Chowan remembers Hugh C. Vincent Jr.

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Chowan University celebrates the life of Hugh C. Vincent Jr., Chowan trustee and longtime friend of the university, who passed away Friday, July 1, at the age of 88.

A CU news release noted that Vincent was born in Suffolk and raised in Southampton County.

Having devoted many years of service on the CU Board of Trustees, Vincent was serving as a member of the Athletics Committee and as chair of the Committee on Membership. He was a previous chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2005-07, a former member of the Executive Committee, a former chair of the Athletics Committee and a former member of the Board of Visitors.

The Vincents have been faithful supporters of Chowan, having given the leadership gift to name the Vincent Athletic Center for soccer and lacrosse. They have been strong supporters of the scholarship program at Chowan, having named seven scholarship endowment funds, many of which are athletic scholarships. The couple has also invested in the J.M. Jenkins Center Campaign and have been faithful supporters of the Chowan Fund and Brave Hawks Club. Hugh and his wife Janet are founding members of the Chowan Christian Service Association. Both were honored in 2006 with the NC Baptist Heritage Award. 

Active members of the Murfreesboro community, the Vincents are long-standing members of Murfreesboro Baptist Church. Both were active members and supporters of the Murfreesboro Historical Association and the Jefcoat Museum of Americana. Hugh has also served as an Executive Committee member of the General Board of the Baptist State Convention. 

The Vincents have six children, two of whom are Chowan alumni.

Hugh was born April 1, 1934, in Suffolk, and his parents were Hugh C. Vincent Sr. and Lillian Coates Vincent, of Newsoms. He was raised in Southampton County where he attended primary and secondary school and then attended and graduated from high school at Ferrum College. He thereafter attended N.C. State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and received his Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural science.

Hugh enjoyed working in many capacities, and he never liked to be idle. He was drafted into the Army and served as a trained militia police officer while serving his duty. He spent 47 years as an independent manufacturer’s representative, introducing companies such as Bush Hog, Kewanee, and Lilliston Corp. into the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. He loved the machinery business, but he also loved farming and he actively farmed for more than 50 years in both North Carolina and Virginia.

Hugh was a lifetime member of the NCSU Alumni Association, the Watauga Club of NCSU and the Wolfpack Club. He loved attending football, basketball and baseball games to watch the Wolfpack in action and to enjoy the company of family and friends.

Vincent served several terms on the Board of Trustees of Chowan University, including as chairman. He was an avid supporter of Chowan athletics. As a longtime member of Murfreesboro Baptist Church, he served there as deacon and trustee. 

He enjoyed gardening and growing ornamental plants and particularly enjoyed spending time at the family’s mountain home at Lake Lure.

Vincent enjoyed the Murfreesboro Rotary Club and immensely enjoyed his many years as a member of the Murfreesboro Coffee Club. He was actively involved for many years with the Murfreesboro Historical Association. He particularly enjoyed refitting a building in the historic district in the design of an authentic blacksmith shop now known as the Vincent/Deale Blacksmith Shop Museum. Hugh served as site manager where he practiced the craft and demonstrated for tour groups using his great-grandfather’s collection of blacksmithing tools, which he donated to the museum.

Vincent never forgot his kind and loving parents. His mother, Lillian, was a school teacher, and his father, Hugh Sr., was a lifelong farmer. Vincent credited his parents, along with his wife of more than 66 years, with any success he achieved. He was a family man, and family came first. During the earlier years, he traveled quite a bit in his work, and he looked forward after each trip to seeing his wife and six children. This was the highlight of the week. In later years he and his wife were blessed with 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. In his words, “This old man’s dreams are fulfilled.”

Vincent has also never forgotten his mentors from the time he was growing up in Newsoms. Edgar Rawls, his 4-H Club leader, convinced him at the age of 12 to take on a pig and calf project. G.W. Nichols encouraged him to plant 20,000 pine seedlings as his Future Farmers of America project. Leroy Dail, his high school principal and baseball coach at Newsoms School, never lost patience with him and his other players. The primary person that trained him in the selling business, Mr. Hoffman, of St. Louis, Missouri, was the vice president of marketing of Lilliston Corporation.

Vincent was predeceased by his youngest son, Kevin Douglas Vincent; his parents, Hugh C. Vincent Sr. and Lillian C. Vincent; his sister, Betty Jane Sakes; his nephew, Matthew Vincent Sakes; and his great-granddaughter, Lily Grace Morhard. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Janet Gibbs Vincent; his five children, Dane Vincent, Dean Vincent, Carol Vincent Miller, Christina Vincent and Hugh C. Vincent III; his eleven grandchildren, Joshua Miller; Laura, Elizabeth and Christopher Vincent; Matthew and Brian Vincent; Emilie Mortensen Boone; Rebecca Mortensen and Lucas Mortensen; Jamie Vincent Morhard; and Aaron Vincent; his six great-grandchildren; and his nephew, Gregory Sakes, and two great-nephews. This list of the family would not be complete without mentioning Douglas Tyler, a longtime friend that Hugh and the entire Vincent family consider as family, along with his wife, Kathie.

A memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday, July 6, at 11 a.m. at Murfreesboro Baptist Church. Immediately following the service, everyone is invited to lunch at the Fellowship Hall at the church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Murfreesboro Historical Association, Murfreesboro Baptist Church, or Best Friends Animal Society, which is based at 5001 Angel Canyon Road in Kanab, Utah 84741.