Jack Delmond of Provincetown died at Cape Cod Hospital of heart failure on Jan. 28, 2023. He was 72.
Jack was born in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1950 to John Delmond and Jean Cacioppo Delmond. He graduated from New York’s Stuyvesant High School in 1967 and studied English before switching to anthropology at Queens College, but “he was going through so many things at home and so many issues with dealing with his sexuality that he ended up dropping out in 1971 before receiving his degree,” said Jay Gagne, Jack’s husband.
Before enrolling in Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., where he received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology in 1977, Jack managed Ed’s Tropical Fish, a chain of stores where he had been a customer.
Jack enrolled in the anthropology doctoral program at UMass Amherst. In 1981, he finished the required coursework but decided to pursue an M.B.A., which he received in 1983, before completing and defending his dissertation. “This was right at the Reagan era, and the economy was really struggling,” Jay said. “And he was worried that he’d go to all this trouble to get a Ph.D. and then wouldn’t be able to find work.”
At UMass, Jack was president of the Graduate Student Senate and the People’s Gay Alliance (now the Pride Alliance). He was a disc jockey at many of the Five Colleges’ gay and lesbian events and at the Frontier, a gay bar in Springfield.
“When he was DJing, he was known as Mother D,” Jay said. “He used to help kids through coming out and he was their mother. In fact, for years after we graduated, friends of ours from UMass would send him Mother’s Day flowers.”
In 1982, a mutual friend introduced Jack and Jay, “but Jack and I both said, no, no, we don’t do fixed-up dates. Then we ran into each other later in the year and we said, ‘Hey, you know, let’s go out on a date,’ and we hit it off right away.”
The couple wed that same year. “We created our own connection of a marriage,” Jay said. In 2004, on their 22nd anniversary, they were legally married in Massachusetts.
In 1983, Jack and Jay moved to Boston, where Jack worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts for 11 years. An avid gardener, he enjoyed his extensive garden in the Fenway Victory Gardens in Boston’s Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood, “encouraging young gardeners to try new plants and listening to their life woes,” Jay said.
Jack received a graduate certificate in landscape design from the Radcliffe School of Design in 1994. He was downsized from Blue Cross that year and started Second Nature Designs, a landscape design firm, with his friends Dan Fasman and Jon Russo. After disbanding the business in 1998, Jack became an antiques dealer. He had booths at several of the Boston area’s antique co-ops, including Minot Hall, whose owners were Ed Steblein and Tom Stearns. When Ed and Tom sold Minot Hall in 2000, they opened Yesterday’s Treasures in Provincetown with Jack.
But Jack’s Provincetown story began in 1979, when he attended his first Carnival parade, staying with friends at the Coat of Arms, a guesthouse owned by Skip and Arpina Stanton. “At that time, to stay at the Coat of Arms, you had to be referred by somebody,” said Jay. “And so, they brought Jack down and he hit it off so well with Skip and Arpina. Once I met Jack, Jack brought me down, and we just always stayed there.”
Jack and Jay became Carnival mainstays, forming a group called “Roz’s Productions,” named after Jack’s character. For Roz’s Productions Presents the Sound of Music, “we decided to do the Von Trapp Family Singers 30 years later,” said Jay. “They were all still wearing the curtain fabric costumes.” In 1988, 1989, and 1990, they won the Best Walking Entry award.
After splitting their time between Boston and the Cape for 14 years, Jack and Jay moved to Provincetown full-time in 2014 and became sole owners of Yesterday’s Treasures. Health issues made Jack vulnerable to Covid-19. So, in 2020, Jay ran the store’s daily operations while Jack semi-retired.
Last April, Jack was in the hospital for 36 days with a systemic infection. During that time, he went into cardiac arrest twice. After the second time, his kidneys failed, and he went on dialysis. Over the summer, he got Covid, and “he never got strong enough again,” Jay said.
But Jack’s presence never faded.
“I walked down to the store Friday, and somebody had left a bouquet of flowers with a little note saying how much Jack had touched them, and they didn’t even sign it,” Jay said. “There are a lot of people who have just always come in and asked about him. It’s a small town, and it really affects a lot of people when something like that happens.”
Jack is survived by Jay; his two sisters, Carla Ulrich and Linda Labella; Carla’s husband, Brian Ulrich; Linda’s husband, Joseph Labella; his brothers-in-law, Joseph Gagne and Andy Gagne; Joseph’s wife, Jill Gagne; Andy’s partner, Lori Lewicki; his father-in-law, Donald Gagne; many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, and grand-nephews; and friends who are like family in Boston, Connecticut, San Francisco, New York, London, and Provincetown.
Instead of flowers, donations may be made in Jack’s memory to the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, CASAS Animal Shelter, the Greater Boston Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Helping Our Women, the Human Rights Campaign, or the Soup Kitchen in Provincetown.