Richard Vinton, a longtime member of and organizer within the Maine pagan community and beyond, died on Sunday, October 4th, 2020, due to complications of end stage renal failure. He departs for the Summerland mourned by many, and leaves behind his loving wife Pat, stepchildren, step grandchildren, and many siblings. He was fifty-four years old.
I had the privilege of knowing Richard and calling him my friend. We became well acquainted in 2006 when I began attending the “Beans, Leaves and Deities” pagan coffee chats in Portland. Richard was already a frequent guest and welcome presence among the pagan circles active in Southern Maine, and I’d met him previously at several of the open full-moon and Sabbat rituals running at the time. But it was at the pagan chats that we became friends.
Richard had grown up in Sanford, Maine, and had seen much of the world serving as a medic in the US armed forces. Returning stateside after his service had ended, he found himself drawn to the path of Gardnerian Wicca and eventually was duly initiated in that tradition. By the time I’d met him, he had transitioned to an eclectic path of Wicca and become very knowledgeable about many of the different modern expressions of paganism. Richard had put in the work and had lived the Gardnerian tradition, but never let that become a wall to keep out the wisdom of other approaches. This, more than anything, helped Richard to be a bridge-builder and diplomat within an often-disparate pagan community.
Nowhere was this more apparent than when he began as co-coordinator of Maine Pagan Pride Day in 2007. Becoming acting president of the event in 2008, Richard was able to assemble and manage an effective team and provide a string of annual pagan community celebrations run in Portland and later Saco. His ability to pull in speakers, organize workshops, and work with vendors and entertainers of many pagan alignments contributed in no small part to making these days so memorable. Moreover, tapping into his acumen as a successful small businessman, he led a Maine Pagan Pride Day that was solvent and financially stable each year of his tenure— a feat rarely matched by any other Pagan Pride.
Richard was a man that would stand up and do rather than sit back and gripe. He was patient, down to earth, and good-humored. Sometimes too good-humored. And he wasn’t one to tolerate those who seemed to not pull their weight, or needed their egos stroked to do so. To be fair, that drew some enmity and criticism to him in a leadership role. But as members of an all-volunteer team under him from his first year running MPPD to his last, my wife and I always felt included, listened to, and appreciated. He led by example and worked very hard.
In 2011, after a five-year run, Richard decided to step down as president and let Maine Pagan Pride Day pass to new leadership. His stamina had begun to deteriorate due to renal failure, and within a few years he would be undergoing regular dialysis and seeking a kidney transplant. He knew that his remaining days could be short, but he walked into each with mindful kindness. And often a joke.
Richard loved animals, and gained many companions over the years from his rescues. For a time, he volunteered at the Runs with Wolves Sanctuary in Limington, helping to care for abandoned wolf hybrids. Later, he once went out of his way to capture and take in a stray cat he found by a dumpster behind his business one morning, giving her a loving home with him. And his dog Jack— a pitbull beagle mix and another rescue who he’d always say self-identified as a unicorn, despite appearances— was a constant companion to him whenever he could be.
When my wife and I moved to Springvale in 2015, it was to a home once owned by the family of a childhood friend of Richard. He relished telling us all his stories of the house from back in the day, gifting us with some secrets of the place— such as a boulder in our woods that was one of his first altars. And that was just like Richard. He had many eclectic stories and adventures, and was always willing to share them even if he was more the fool than the hero of the story. From the time he climbed Mt. Fuji, to Gardnerian misadventures, to his teenage shenanigans around Sanford… I loved hearing his tales. I suspect many did.
Those stories remain now that Richard has passed to the Summerland. The friendships he created around him, and the connections he helped weave into the pagan community, still resonate. As it is said and as Richard and I once discussed, our actions are like ripples across water. Traveling, joining, reflecting one off the other. Making new patterns in the interweaved whole of life long after those actions are over.
In this I know my friend, in the ripples he made upon the veil of life, will be a part of our living world for a long time to come. That he is here though we bid his spirit farewell.
Pass in peace, pass in power, my friend.
~Jason H. Abbott
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