Whether running a camera at Bedford TV, marching with the Bedford Minutemen well into his 80s, helping to plan patriotic holiday celebrations, or adding measurably to community life at Ashby Place Vincent Alan ‘Al’ Fay was a link to Bedford’s roots.
Born in 1938, Al was a link to Bedford’s adolescence—during World War II and the construction of the Bedford airbase, before it was named for LG Hanscom. A time when boys roamed freely and held summer jobs on local farms.
As a young man, he was an early volunteer with Bedford Santa, the town’s longest-standing volunteer endeavor. Ralph Hammond recalled that when Santa visited his family home starting in 1954, there was something familiar about the jolly elf, and “He was a great Santa!”
Fay entered basic training at Fort Dix, NJ, in 1955, then returned for Advanced Individual Training at Fort Devens as a member of the Massachusetts National Guard’s famed Yankee Division. He served with Company H 182nd Regimental Combat Team and B Company 110th Armor in the 26th Infantry, until he retired as a Staff Sergeant after 26 years and 9 months, according to Bedford’s Veterans Agent William Linnehan.
In more recent times, he marched with the Bedford Minuteman Company in Concord’s Patriot’s Day parade for many years. According to former captain Roy Kring, as Cornet he would lead the marchers as they crossed North Bridge, bearing the Bedford Flag. In later Pole Capping exercises he helped to carry the Liberty Pole from Fitch Tavern to Willson Park, showing “true dedication long after others would have quit,” said Minuteman Captain Charles Hacala.
In October 2015 Al began volunteering at Bedford TV, most often as the man behind Camera One, but occasionally on camera. Reflections of Bedford, hosted by Fay, is a charming look back at Bedford’s past. Bedford TV’s executive director Katie Duval recalled Al as a reliable volunteer for Bedford Common and the Bedford TV News, never missing a commitment. Hammond loves recalling the night Al, in his 80s, was on Camera One, and 8-year-old Ben—a participant in BRIC2, the collaboration between the Bedford Rotary Club and Bedford TV to mentor young media volunteers—operated Camera Two.
Grand Marshall of Bedford’s Memorial Day parade in 2019, Al also helped to identify other deserving candidates, noted Patriotic Holiday Committee chair Paul Purchia, and shared personal memories each year when the annual Roll Call of Honor was developed during committee meetings.
Speaking about Fay, a resident of Ashby Place for nearly 20 years, director Brenda Peacock said, “Al was always thinking of innovative ways to better the community. We will miss him very much.”
And so will many others.