By Emily J. Minor
BOCA RATON — Dr. Thomas G. Vinci, a kid from the tenements of New York City’s Lower East Side who became a successful educator and social philanthropist, died Thanksgiving Day. He was 93.
Dr. Vinci, who had retired to Florida full-time in the early 1990s with his wife, Elin, was known for his devotion to church, education and community, said one of his sons.
“I love that Dad got along with everyone, and everyone was treated with dignity and respect,” said Peter Vinci, who lives in Atlanta. “Everything he did, he rolled up his sleeves and worked along with everyone else.”
And Dr. Vinci did a lot.
Born in New York City in 1923, Dr. Vinci attended the still-renowned Stuyvesant High School, known even then for its dedication to math and science. Admission was tough, and based solely on academics.
Dr. Vinci would go on to receive undergrad and graduate degrees from Fordham and Columbia universities before starting his career as a public school science teacher in 1967. Science, teaching and children comprised the heart of his life’s work. Later, he was an associate dean emeritus at Fordham.
Dr. Vinci met Elin, to whom he was married in 1948, at the beginning of their college careers, she said. She was 16 and he was 18. Mrs. Vinci said she always loved her husband’s confidence, loving spirit and interest in children and learning. At the time of his death, they’d been married 68 years.
After leaving Manhattan with their first baby, the couple lived in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and then Saddle River, N.J.
Dr. Vinci was always taking advanced courses and, for 20 years, Elin Vinci worked full-time with a Manhattan College environmental startup called Hydroscience. Dr. Vinci was also the founder of Pine Brook Day Camp in Tallman, N.Y., a prominent summer program that thrives today, although under different ownership.
In the late 1980s, the Vincis began to fall in love with coastal life in southern Palm Beach County. By 1993, they were living here year round, and loving the view from their penthouse apartment at Sabal Point Apartments in Boca Raton.
“I love the weather. I love looking at the ocean,” said Mrs. Vinci. “It’s the best thing we ever did.”
Upon establishing a post-retirement life here, Dr. Vinci was involved in many groups in Boca Raton, including the Mayor’s Education Advisory Board, the Christ Child Society, the League for Educational Awareness of the Holocaust, Men of Caring Hearts, FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association, the Fordham University Alumni Club of South Florida, and the New Pines Development Center. He also served as president and board member of the Sabal Point Apartment Association.
A Mass was held in his honor Dec. 3, and the family asks that memorials be made to the Christ Child Society of Boca Raton at P.O. Box 811025, Boca Raton, FL 33481.
Besides his wife and their son Peter, other survivors include another son, Tom, his wife, Ann, and their two children, of Summit, N.J. Peter Vinci’s two children also survive their grandfather.
By Emily J. Minor