Thomas R. Vincent, a longtime D.C. resident who worked as a procurement officer for the federal government and most recently for the United Nations, died March 21 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He was 62.
His sister, Caroline Fitzgerald, said he died suddenly after contracting a respiratory illness less than three months after he retired from his position as chief procurement officer for a United Nations program based in Cambodia.
The program provides assistance to a special Cambodian tribunal in charge of prosecuting individuals implicated in atrocities against the Cambodian people that were committed during the Khmer Rouge government from 1975 to 1979.
The tribunal is officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea.
Lars Olsen, a spokesperson for the U.N., said Vincent was “responsible for overseeing the procurement of all goods and contractual services provided by the United Nations to assist the operations” of the tribunal court.
“Tom loved the people and culture of Cambodia,” Fitzgerald said. “He had recently expressed his wishes to make Cambodia his home and the place he could spend his retirement years.”
Vincent, who was gay and had many friends in D.C.’s gay community, was born in Quincy, Mass., according to Fitzgerald. He received his bachelor’s degree at Boston University and a master’s degree in public administration from Boston’s Suffolk University.
His career in the field of public administration and procurement included a stint between 1998 and 2003 as deputy director and director of the Procurement Management Division at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C.
He served from January 2005 to December 2006 as acting director of procurement and procurement manager for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty both in Washington and in Prague.
From 2006 to 2008 he served as a consultant for the suburban Maryland-based company Procurement Solutions. In that position he provided consulting services to companies doing business with international agencies, including the U.N’s World Health Organization and UNICEF program, the World Bank, the Gates Foundation and the U.S. National Academies of Science.
“Thomas was a voracious reader and loved to learn all he could about countries, their people and their cultures,” Fitzgerald said. “He spent many wonderful years traveling all over the world visiting places like the Egyptian pyramids, climbing Machu Picchu, exploring the countryside and castles in Scotland, shopping in London, and the list goes on,” she said.
“He not only traveled the world, but always made sure he brought a little piece of where he had been back to his family,“ said Fitzgerald. “He was always thoughtful and considerate of others.”
Fitzgerald said her brother was a “strong ally to those who struggled with alcohol addiction,” adding, “He was diligent in his commitment to his own rehabilitation and to those friends he met along the way, always being there to lend a helping hand and show his support.”
Survivors include his sisters Caroline, Kathleen, and Beth; his brother David; his niece and many nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. He was predeceased by his parents, Barbara and Thomas Vincent.
At his request, his ashes will remain in Cambodia, Fitzgerald said. She said a private memorial will be held by his family at a future date.
Condolences may be sent c/o Kathleen Rafanan, 1400 Celebration Ave., Apt. 301, Celebration, FL 34747.