Longtime Hamilton Park resident, Vincent Hayden, 67, died of a heart attack at his home in Lakewood on Oct. 2.
Vincent was born in Paterson to Paul and Frances Hayden and was a nephew of Gertrude Hayden, a nun with the Sisters of Charity. He graduated from East Paterson High School and served in the Navy for nine years.
Around 1987 Vincent moved to the Hamilton Park section of Jersey City with his partner Jack Allen. They were avid motorcyclists and Harley Davidson owners. Together, they supported a variety of efforts to strengthen and empower the gay community in Jersey City. When the AIDS epidemic struck, they supported and cared for their friends and neighbors.
Fixtures on the benches in Hamilton Park with their dogs Turkey, Lacey, and Hannibal and Tigger, Vincent and Jack greeted fellow dog owners while becoming the self-appointed watchmen, sages and historians of changes, trends and activities in and around the park. After Jack’s swift demise to cancer in 2003, Vincent remained active in the comings and goings of his friends and neighbors. Vincent was a collector and bargain-hunter, acquiring dishes, clocks, religious artifacts, Hummels and other collectibles. He sold them by the table load at the annual Hamilton Park Festival, always making hundreds of dollars.
Vincent worked at Mikasa Inc. until its relocation to southern New Jersey. He then began a series of entrepreneurial pursuits. From 2008-2011, he manned a food cart outside St. Peter’s Prep High School, happy to see a class of freshmen depart as seniors.
In May 2012, Vincent made the decision to simplify his life by moving to Lakewood. His move to an active seniors’ community was to be the official beginning of his retirement but he stayed connected to Jersey City, attending the Pride Festival and the Holy Rosary Festival this August, on the same day, just a few weeks prior to his death. His niece, Ann Di Benedetto and his grandniece Gina Di Benedetto, both of Buffalo N.Y., mourn him.
Vincent’s friends throughout New Jersey, but particularly in the Hamilton Park section of Jersey City, are deeply grateful for Vincent’s generosity, curiosity and friendship and unwavering commitment to his community: the gays, straights, moms, dads, kids, and dogs, dog owners, old-timers and bikers.

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