Provincetown’s VFW Commander Philip Andrew Fingado Dies at 57 - The Provincetown Independent (2024)

By Tom Recchio

Paul Mendes was grocery shopping in 2009 when he saw a man in his early 40s wearing a Marine Corps buckle. A Vietnam vet of the Corps and longtime Provincetown VFW member, Paul struck up a conversation and learned that the man, Andy Fingado, had been hired as manager of the Ace hardware store on Conwell Street. Andy, also a Marine vet, accepted Paul’s invitation to join the local post. Thus began his 15 years of service to the community.

Provincetown’s VFW Commander Philip Andrew Fingado Dies at 57 - The Provincetown Independent (1)

Philip Andrew Fingado died at Mass. General Hospital in Boston on May 22, 2024, just one day after marrying his partner of 15 years, Christine Kelly. The cause was esophageal cancer. Andy, who lived in Centerville, was 57.

“Andy was the new blood the VFW needed to work through its most challenging time,” Paul Mendes said.

“He brought more humanity to our business,” said Conwell Home Center owner Jeff Rogers.
He made us a family,” he added, while also “making the business more responsive to the community.”

The son of Philip and Doreen Fingado, Andy was born in Prince George’s County, Md. on July 18, 1966. His father was an Air Force veteran who worked in retail, and his mother was a nurse who joined the Army Reserve later in life. Before the family moved to Hyannis, they had a small farm in Maryland.

On the Cape, Andy had an idyllic childhood. “He was a good kid,” his sister Sarah said. “He had a paper route and never got into any trouble.” He and his sisters caught frogs in the pond behind their house, and with his cousin Glen he built remote-control battleships and parachuted toy soldiers from his bedroom window. “He was always on an adventure with his friends,” said Sarah, “and he loved military history.”

The summer after he graduated from Barnstable High School in 1984, he was in Marine Corps boot camp. A precocious recruit, Andy was selected for officer candidate school and spent four years at the UMass Amherst, where he achieving the rank of brown belt in karate before graduating in 1989 with a B.A. in history.

Commissioned as a second lieutenant, Andy trained in communications and served on active duty in the U.S. and overseas from 1989 to 1998, leaving the Marines with the rank of captain.

Andy worked as a general manager for Gateway Computers until 2004, the same year he earned a master’s degree in management. He worked for Target as a store manager and executive team leader from 2004 to 2006.

By 2006 Andy and his wife, Julianne Brown Fingado, were divorced, and when his mother was diagnosed with cancer, he returned to the Cape to work for Sears as the general manager in Taunton. That’s where he met Christine Kelly, the operations manager. They became good friends and then a committed couple in 2009.

Frustrated with corporate retail, Andy had started to look for other jobs and found a posting for a job as a store manager in Provincetown. Conwell’s Jeff Rogers was looking for someone with practical skills and leadership qualities.

Provincetown’s VFW Commander Philip Andrew Fingado Dies at 57 - The Provincetown Independent (2)

“I was the idea guy,” Jeff said, “and Andy was skilled at implementation. He was great with the staff, drawing the group closer together.”

After the pandemic, Andy and Jeff hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to shake the effect of the lockdown years out of their bodies.

Andy first served as VFW quartermaster, in charge of the group’s financials. With decreasing numbers — the members were mostly aging World War II and Korean War veterans — the group was having trouble maintaining its property. Andy instituted military branch birthday party celebrations at which he gave animated talks on military history, but the bar was losing money and hard decisions had to be made.

When he became commander in 2013, Andy oversaw the sale of the VFW property to the town at a price below market value. The motion to sell carried by one vote. On June 18, groundbreaking took place for the 65 units of affordable housing that will be built on the site.

Under Andy’s leadership, it was decided to donate the chapter’s assets to veteran support organizations and to endow scholarships named after prominent Outer Cape veterans. In a series of birthday dinners held at Montano’s over the past two years, checks were presented, and Andy enriched each occasion with his historical battlefield stories.

Often Andy’s choice of a story had a personal meaning for someone in the audience. In an online remembrance, Beth Cicero wrote: “Just last Veterans Day, he invited us to attend a special event wherein he relayed in moving detail the Chosin Reservoir Battle so we could understand what our uncle went through during his service in the Korean War.”

Andy also spearheaded the effort to formally recognize Timothy Parker Johnson, the only War of 1812 veteran from Provincetown. For Andy, military history was not abstract; it was always about the choices, strengths, and integrity of individual soldiers.

On May 12, Andy asked Chris to marry him. They thought July 10, the day they had become a couple, would be a good day to do it. But on May 20, one of the nurses at Mass General said, “You need to do this tomorrow.” The hospital chaplain performed the ceremony on May 21, a friend from North Carolina arriving to be best man and the cupcakes and soda provided by the hospital.

A friend asked if Andy would like an old-fashioned. “I’d love one,” he said. She fetched one from a local bar; Andy took a sip before it was poured into plastic pill cups for the group to perform a wedding toast.

A week or two earlier he had taken care of one other piece of unfinished business: pinning his nephew Antonio after his completion of Army Reserve Officer Training School. With Andy unable to attend the commissioning, Provincetown Harbormaster Don German went in his stead, Antonio having served as assistant harbormaster when he was 18. Afterwards, Antonio made his way to Mass. General, where Andy could finally pin him, ensuring the continuation of a family tradition.

Andy is survived by his wife, Christine Kelly of Centerville; his children, Michael of Martin City, Mont., Johnathan of Austin, Texas, and Julianne of Traverse City, Mich.; his sisters, Amelia Araujo of East Taunton and Sarah Simonelli of West Barnstable; a host of nieces, nephews, and friends; and his pups, Lexi and Gizmo.

Family and friends will gather on Thursday, June 27 to pay respects from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Doane Beal & Ames, 160 West Main St., Hyannis. A celebration of life will follow at 10:30 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Cape Wildlife Center of Barnstable or Wild Care of Eastham.

Provincetown’s VFW Commander Philip Andrew Fingado Dies at 57 - The Provincetown Independent (2024)
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