Longtime residents Dick and Janey Jacoby move to Virginia

Janey and Dick Jacoby. Photo: P. Vankevich

By Peter Vankevich

Ocracoke to be what it is, has relied on its residents to step up and use their skills, much of it on a voluntary basis.

Two of them, Dick and Janey Jacoby, have dedicated thousands of hours to the island over more than 25 years, especially in service to the Ocracoke Preservation Society and the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department (OVFD).

Recently, they moved to a retirement community in Richmond.

The couple moved here in 1995 after retiring as educators in Fairfax County in northern Virginia. Janey had taught elementary school and Dick taught a variety of subjects: industrial arts, computer drafting and pre-engineering.

They first visited Ocracoke in the mid-1960s with Dick’s college buddy Bill Monticone and his wife Leslie, and eventually the two couples lived side-by-side.

“After a period of time living here full time, I guess we saw the need to volunteer, to give something to the community,” Janey said.

Their first stint was at the Ocracoke Preservation Society where, after years as volunteers, Janey served as the society’s president and Dick as a trustee.

“They needed somebody to become president and somehow I must have raised my hand by mistake,” she said laughing.

Not your typical trustee, Dick, using his industrial arts skills, did work on the OPS museum, converting rooms into office space and redesigning the gift shop.

“I worked all the way from under the house to the attic, installing fans for ventilation and whatever that the Park Service had suggested we do,” he said.

He made a significant improvement by building a storage unit behind the museum, permitting the jam-packed upstairs rooms to be used as office space.

They were also instrumental in creating a computer catalog database for the society’s hundreds of photographs and documents stored in shoe boxes.

“Back then, a lot of items were stored in shoe boxes,” said Dick.

Janey looks back at their OPS volunteer work with fondness.

“We did a lot of small activities, started story-telling sessions (now known as Porch Talks) and tried to get people who lived here to get involved, and we were always pleasantly surprised at the reaction of the community,” she said.

It took a near tragic incident for them to get involved with the OVFD.

In 2003, some fireworks brought by visitors accidentally caught the marsh on fire near Jackson Dunes. Had the volunteers not contained it, much of the village could have caught fire. 

“I thought to myself, ‘My house is in the village. I need to be involved.’ So, I joined the fire department right after that,” Dick said. (Since then, all fireworks and open burning are prohibited on Ocracoke.)

He started by running the brush truck, but, along with Janey, also got involved in administration.

“We’ve gone through three inspections, and our ratings have improved which has had a major benefit of lowering peoples home insurance rates,” Dick said.

Dick rose from volunteer firefighter to Captain Administrative, and for the last 10 years, Janey served as secretary of the Ocracoke Fire Protection Association, the nonprofit that handles the OFVD’s finances, and Dick served as its president.

Marcy & Lou begin a new chapter

Lou Castro and Marcy Brenner perform at the 2021 Ocrafolk Festival. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

After dealing with back-to-back disasters on Ocracoke Island – Hurricane Dorian in 2019 followed by the COVID-19 pandemic – Coyote has moved on.

Coyote is the name of the duo of Marcy Brenner and Lou Castro, musicians who lived on the island for the last 21 years.

Dorian (Sept. 6, 2019) flooded their home (since repaired), their vehicles and their performance venue Coyote Den in the old Williams house in Community Square.

“COVID took away our public speaking, our public performances, my book signings,” Marcy said. “We lost our careers.”

After selling their house, in February, they moved to the “space coast” of Florida – Merritt Island.

“So, we’re semi retiring, but we have a big musical community down there,” Marcy said. That community will teach them new things and feed their creativity.

Someone gave Marcy a cello that she wants to learn. She also has been writing new songs and said they will have a new album out soon.

“We’re gonna be live streaming once we settle and have an address to publish,” she said.

They will be busy with getting Marcy’s book, “A Baker’s Daughter,” to the next level. Part of that push is a television series about a bakery Marcy has written a pilot for and will pitch to the powers that be in Hollywood.

They also plan to take a road trip around the United States and to return to Ocracoke for the Ocrafolk Festival June 3 to 5 and the Fig Festival Aug. 5 and 6.

While they’re here, Lou will practice quickly with Raygun Ruby, the 80s music band he has been a part of, and which will play at both festivals.

Whew!

Amazingly, since they sold their Ocracoke property, the pressure is off to pay the rent.

“We’re not really doing it for the money,” Lou said about playing live music. Sometimes he would play three gigs a night in season on Ocracoke.

“It’s just our recreation now,” Marcy said. “It’s not gonna be our vocation. This is really a very welcomed slowdown.”

6 COMMENTS

  1. Since we moved away in September, we have missed everyone. Out prayers and best wishes go with you all. Your contributions to the village are immeasurable..

  2. Something special draws all kind of people to our wonderful sand bar! In my opinion, the folks that end up staying are pretty special themselves! These four carried their weight and did the work of twice as many during their years here. They are going to more than missed! They have left a void that will be hard to fill. Sending so much love to the Jacobys and Coyote ❤️

  3. Not quite college buddies….Bill and Dick taught at the same school, starting in 1966…but, yes,we did introduce them to Ocracoke in 1967!! Lifelong friends who will be missed!

  4. Dick and Jane were also heavily involved with the United Methodist Church. Dick has been a trustee for more than 10 years and Janey was the church secretary for a similar period of time. They have been generous with their time and their donations to the church, especially following Hurricane Dorian. Dick and Jane will be sorely missed by the OUMC.

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