Joseph Fraser Vincent was born to soldier and soldier he did. The son of Stewart Tiffany Vincent (USMA 1922) and Mary Dowling, he had one older brother, Robert (USMA 1951). Their great-grandfather John W. Frazer (USMA 1849) fought for the Confederacy. Their father served for 34 years through WW II. Joe was born in the Philippines, grew up an Army brat and graduated from Texas Military Institute (TMI) in San Antonio, TX.
His military bent was apparent early on, as he starred in football and was commander of TMI's Best Company his senior year. Easily one of the most respected in the TMI Class of 1949, he was headed for West Point and a career of service.
Prior to entering West Point, Joe attended two colleges: Williams College, Williamstown, MA (1949-1950) and Hobart College (of Hobart and William Smith Colleges), Geneva, NY (1950-1951). Joe then entered West Point with the Class of 1955. As a plebe in Company A-2, his commitment, perseverance, bearing and equanimity inspired his class. In upperclass years, Joe's leadership in company sports and the Corps was ever present. He was then, as always, a steady, consummate role model and leader.
Graduation brought an Artillery commission, basic schooling at Fort Sill, OK, then assignment to the 376th FA Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, NC. The jumps were fun, the soldiering exciting, the leadership exhilarating and the parties at the 'O' Club unifying. Joe inspired all to lead as he did: calm, direct, decisive and committed to Duty, Honor, Country.
Joe continued to grow with increasingly responsible assignments: Korea, a master's degree in math from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, faculty at West Point, combat in Vietnam, the Army War College and joint service senior staff assignments. Like his dad, he was there to serve, to motivate, to inspire.
In 1957 Joe met and married his soulmate, Fran. All the traits so admired by others came together as husband, father and forever friend. He and Fran had four children: Joe Jr., Jim, Mary and Bill.
Joe was a devoted father and a man of great integrity, honor, humility, kindness, generosity, selflessness and unwavering faith. He taught his children through word and example how to love and defend the family, love and respect others, and to stand up for what they believed. He taught them to make and pursue goals and to believe that they could succeed in anything to which they set their minds. He instilled a sincere love for God in them and a desire to live out their lives with sincerity. He also showed them how to enjoy life one day at a time. In his last years he taught them to persevere, to keep a positive attitude, to concentrate on those things they could do rather than on their limitations and to trust in God fully while facing adversity.
After 24 years of military service it was time for new challenges and new opportunities with family and in the business world. After discussions with Fran and much prayer, he put his family before career and made the decision to retire, becoming an executive with Dale Carnegie Management Courses and with Satellite Services.
Fully retired in 1990, Joe and Fran enjoyed full-time RVing, rafted the Colorado and sailed the Caribbean. At age 74 he ran a leg of the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon with three of his sons, then two years later completed the 12-mile March Back from Beast Barracks to West Point with the new plebes in the Class of 2010, one of whom was his oldest grandson. He completed this challenge despite being in the early stages of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) with loss of leg strength, balance and mobility, and its inexorable progression. Joe faced ALS with the dignity and courage that he faced every challenge.
Joe planned ahead, shared with his family, shared his faith and was strong to the end. His son-in-law, Bob Perry, wrote a beautiful obituary that has been published on the Class of 1955 home page.
When the end came, the family was there at his bedside. Joe, unable to speak, using finger squeezes as letters from the alphabet that were called out by a family member, communicated his final words: 'I love all. Time to move along."
Joe's second meeting with Fran was at the officers' club at Fort Bragg, NC. She looked up from the deep end of the swimming pool and saw a hand was reaching down to help her out. She looked further, and there was a pair of sexy legs. As she looked up to the face to see to whom the hand belonged, she saw the amazing eyes and finished reaching up her hand to his. After a few dates they became engaged. As wedding plans were made, Joe was transferred to Fort Sill.
During a trip to Fort Sill, while staying with friends, Fran let Joe know that she was getting cold feet. He made no arguments, just looked at her and said, 'I just want you to be happy.' Those words struck her heart and soul, and she knew immediately that the inner man was as good as, if not better than, the outer man. They were married on December 27, 1957.
After Joe's death there was a letter entitled 'For Fran Only.' One statement included was, 'THANK YOU for being my life's partner.' (Personal note from Fran: I love you, Joe. I always will, and I AM your life's partner. See you in heaven, My Darling Joe!)
Joe, we bid you goodbye, knowing it was 'Well Done."
- Family, friends and classmates
TAPS Memorial Article