Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We will likely never see your kind face again, your deep-bellowing voice full of confidence and swagger could ice anyone in its path. As a war hero from the Greatest Generation you were shot in Okinawa in April of 1945, then sent home and back to Brown where you met Missy and married her in 1948. You sold your convertible to buy her the ring. Then it was off to Manhattan where you became the head of advertising for AT&T in the 1960s, a true life Mad Man who smoked five packs of Luckys a day between martini lunches. You let your fingers do the walking all the way until you retired to the Vineyard in 1982, where eventually I met up with you when I was 19.

I sat with Bob Tilton and David Crohan last week and we talked about the good old times at the round table in the Art Cliff Diner and the weekly deliveries of Holy Water from Kappy’s in Falmouth. I can only imagine what the diner is like up there in heaven? It probably goes something like this: 4:45 a.m., Stuart Bangs arrives to turn on the coffee; soon after Pat Luce shows up to start the eggs. The locals come in slowly to the old Formica round table in the corner below the low ceiling and wood paneled walls with random photos and newspaper cutouts pinned behind the table.

Don Amaral is there and so is Jim Gaffney. Dr. Hoxsie stops in for a coffee on his way to the hospital and says hello to Bill Hagerty and Dave Searle. Melissa Howland is there for breakfast before she heads up to see Hal Tinker for the day. Soon a crowd of tourists tries to come in, but Johnny Seaview scares them all away. It’s a usual morning and then you walk through the door looking for Joe Cooke to mow the lawn.

It must be quite a place up there. It’s been just over a week and I really miss you Jack. Nobody ever busted my balls harder than you and I am a better man for it. I will miss all of that. I will miss happy hour with you and Missy and your diluted Dewar’s tangents. I thought you’d live forever with your larger than life presence, but you knew the end was near. You are one of my best friends and your confidence and swagger will live in me forever. You are my hero. So I will leave you with your own words:

“I’m not always right, but I’m never wrong!”

Chris Huff, West Tisbury