Some people just seem to be able to connect with everyone, so when they die the hole they leave behind is a little bigger than average. So it was with the death Friday of Walter Vincent ‘Popeye’ Jette (find his obituary here). At 95, Popeye could hardly have been expected to live many more years. Yet the outpouring from friends and relatives shows that letting go no matter the age is no easy task.
For Steve Cinquegrana, owner of Mainstreet Coffee, Popeye was a regular from the day he opened, in 2003.
“He always used to come in, cheer up everybody and tell his jokes,” Cinquegrana said Tuesday. “At his 90th birthday party I gave him a lifetime card for free coffee. But he’d stay away. I stopped by and asked why he wasn’t coming in to get his coffee. ‘I didn’t want to take advantage of you,’ he told me. That was him. Nice guy.”
Back when the Barbara Tufts Co-op Preschool was on Main Street, teachers would walk with their students up and down Main Street, visiting businesses and talking to people. Popeye was a favorite with the kids, recalled teacher Kate Gallogly.
“He would always have a joke, a one-liner, and the kids loved him,” she said.
The online condolences number more than 50. Here are some highlights:
He has been an inspiration to many. He loved to put a smile on everyone’s face, either by telling jokes or dancing (bata bing, bata boom). Love this man! May you rest in paradise, Popeye. You will definitely be missed by so many and East Greenwich will never be the same without you!
If we had more people in this world like Popeye we all would be truly blessed. It was a privilege to have known him. Truly a bona fide “Townie” and loved by all.
– E.G.Oil Co.
RIP Popeye. You always had a joke and you were always dancing (swivel hips). You will be sadly missed and I know that heaven gained a perfect angel.
– Donna Richardson
The town of East Greenwich definitely lost a piece of its heart this week when we lost you, “The Mayor of Main Street.” You were one of a kind and had an amazing ability to bring happiness and laughter to everyone you met and we are all better for having known you! I know you’re up there right now reunited with your dear Ella and Barbara Jean telling stories about Betty Burlap, the old bag, showing off your dance moves and charming everyone with those witty one liners.
– Lorie Gill
Jette, I wish this day never had to come. You will be greatly missed. I will never forget the great sayings you had. Me: How you feeling Jett? Him: I don’t know baby why don’t you come over here so I can feel ya with my hands. 🙂
I remember when I first met you and asked you your name you told me, “Jett, because I’m fast like a jet, baby.”
You were always smiling and always making everyone else smile. I love you xoxo
RIP Popeye! You will be truly missed! We had a lot of fun with you at the Rocky Hill Flea Market!
– Jane Rice & Buddy Davis
East Greenwich has lost a long-time icon. You were truly the original “Townie,” even when the town changed around you. You were a wonderful soul, and touched the hearts and souls of so many around you. You will be forever remembered in all of us that knew you.
– Don Rigby
This incredible man touched so many lives. To know Popeye was to love him! Loving memories will live on in so many hearts. Rest now dear sweet man.
– Sandy Masterson
One time he told me, “I found a new fishing spot, you know where I find them?”
I said, “Oh yeah? Where?” He said, “Right in the water!”
This is one of many jokes he shared with many. Gone but never will be forgotten. Thank you for all the smiles you put on people’s faces, Popeye.
– Ron Tibbetts