Vines remembered

Published 5:39 pm Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gloria Vines, the wife of the late Rev. Dr. J. Rayfield Vines Jr., speaks during a memorial service at Carver Memorial Cemetery on Saturday.

Gloria Vines, the wife of the late Rev. Dr. J. Rayfield Vines Jr., speaks during a memorial service at Carver Memorial Cemetery on Saturday.

About 60 family and friends of the Rev. Dr. J. Rayfield Vines Jr. gathered at Carver Memorial Cemetery on Saturday to place a memorial stone on his grave.

Vines, who died in August 2012 at the age of 75, led sit-in protests at downtown lunch counters in the 1960s. He was arrested and went to jail on charges of inciting a riot, integrating a segregated establishment and others.

The protests happened when he was in his 20s. Already a Booker T. Washington High School alumnus and accomplished musician, Vines went on to earn Bachelor of Arts, Master of Education, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees. He worked as a teacher in several Virginia school systems, was a teacher of the year in Richmond and was a pastor at Hungary Road Baptist Church in Glen Allen when he died. The year before his death, he served a term as president of the Virginia State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

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Family members and friends remembered him during Saturday’s ceremony.

“He was my rock,” his wife, Gloria Vines, said. “I had a good life with him.”

“I’m just thankful to have the blessing for him to have been my father,” his oldest child, Erika Powell, said on Saturday. “He’s still here, and he would never leave us.”

The youngest child, Niani Wynn, said people could remember her father in simple ways. “Remember to love people, to forgive, and try to live life as Jesus would have you,” she said.

J. Rayfield Vines III said his father “symbolized standing up for people’s rights.”
“I do believe my father’s legacy is a legacy worth remembering,” he said. “Your life has to have meaning.”

Vines unveiled his father’s stone and read its inscription while the Rev. J.J. Ferguson anointed it with oil and water. The inscription reads: “Here lies a civil rights activist whose modus operandi was to leave the world better than he found it. He led the sit-ins in February ’62 and was arrested and put in jail. He also successfully boycotted the Suffolk News-Herald paper which resulted in an integrated periodical. Senate Joint Resolution No. 307. A native of Suffolk. A graduate of Booker T. Washington High. Reverend Dr. Rayfield Vines Jr. B.S., M.Ed., M.Div, D.Min.”

Several people he mentored at Hungary Road Baptist Church, who are now ministers themselves, spoke during the ceremony. They told of Vines giving food off his plate and clothes off his back to those who needed them, encouraging people in their education and spiritual growth and pushing those with a gift to become ministers.

“It seemed to come to natural to him,” Gail Wilkerson said.

Also during the ceremony, the deed of gift of Vines’ papers and works to Norfolk State University was announced.

“It is fitting that his papers and the works of his life go into the archives,” said Dr. Howard Adams of Norfolk State.

The gift “contributes significantly to our mission,” added Annette Montgomery, assistant director of the Harrison B. Wilson Archives and African Art Gallery.