Obituary of Vincent J. Gerace
Vincent J. Gerace
April 8, 2020. Vincent is survived by his wife, Joan Gerace; children, Susan Stephany, Steve (Debbie) Gerace, Doug (Laila) Gerace & Lynn (Tom) Mack; grandchildren, Sam (Christine) Gerace, Jeff (Nicholette) Gerace, Michelle Gerace, Maggie Gaylord, Emily Gaylord, Carleigh Gaylord, Sarah Stephany, Vincent Stephany, Olivia Gerace & Valerie Gerace; 2 great-grandchildren, Gianna & Leo Gerace; sister Mary Ann (Jim) Fitzsimmons; several nieces & nephews.
His funeral mass will be held privately for the family. Interment in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to a charity of one's choice.
Vincent was born in Rochester and lived in the city until about age 5. He first attended school in the city and then moved to Churchville. He grew up loving the outdoors, sometimes causing innocent havoc. A cherubic young child who grew into a chubby boy with wavy hair (which he continued to have for his entire life).
In Churchville, the Gerace's lived in a farmhouse on Main Street in the Village. Grandpa Gerace was a barber. Vincent’s high school was small, with only about 20 people in his class. He played clarinet in the band, as well as basketball and baseball. He often told a story where he was playing in a Churchville High School Basketball game, and then at halftime he played his clarinet in the band wearing his basketball uniform.
Vincent had a reputation as a class clown at school and according to his sister all the teachers loved him which helped him get away with almost anything. He often hung around town with his friends engaging in harmless pranks like moving port-a-potties to the cemetery! His pranks didn’t end with his job at Harris Seeds. He once threw a water balloon into the bathroom stall next to him only to find out that it was occupied, by THE Mr. Harris! He tells of coming home late one night and being hit in the head with a shoe by Grandpa Geraci (who was waiting up for him). He loved to hunt and fish and often told stories about hunting groundhogs on the railroad tracks after school with his friends.
After graduating from high school, he went to St Bonaventure University. He studied economics and graduated. Vincent told stories of sneaking out of his dorm and getting caught on the way back in and receiving demerits. They were required to wear ties to meals, and he wore the same tie for 4 years and by the end, it could stand by itself in the corner of his room. At SBU meals were served family style, and at the time SBU had a football team… If you were late to a meal you would be left sitting with the football team and by the time the food reached you, nothing would be left for the “regular size” students. Vincent reportedly never did a load of laundry at school, he brought home laundry in metal boxes for his mother to do on the weekends. There is even a rumor that he mailed his laundry home to his mom - although this story has never been proven or disproven. He also talked a lot about the Franciscan Friar that lived on their dorm floor, how they drove him crazy with all the pranks and sneaking around.
He participated in ROTC at SBU and entered the Army as a 2nd Lt. stationed in Germany, post WWII (1954). During his time in Europe he traveled and saw many different countries. He took a trip to Italy where he spent time with family members that he did not know. He purchased a new little sports car, an Austin Healy 100, that he spoke of lovingly for the rest of his life. He transported this car to the US after he was discharged from the service and ended up trading it in so his parents could purchase a new car. During his army days the base commander called him into his office and asked about his basketball career, and because he played high school basketball he was assigned as coach of the battalion team. He would hold practice, which consisted of the team running their own practice, and him reading the paper or magazines while they practiced.
Vincent met Joan on a blind date and began a long distance relationship- Vincent in Washington, and Joan in New Jersey. They married on February 6, 1960, at Our Lady of Carmel Church in Tenafly NJ, and began their life together back in Washington.
In November of that year, their daughter Susan was born. In time, the three moved back to Rochester and lived in the Northgate Apartments on Dewey Avenue. In 1962, they moved into their first house at Berkshire Drive. Steven was born later that year, Doug in 1966, and Lynn in 1973. That year they moved to the second family home. Joan stayed home fulltime taking care of the kids, while Vincent went to work each day.
Vincent finished the basements, so they could be used as living spaces, made a sandbox for us to play in and a deck for our above ground pool, painted and wallpapered many rooms, re-did bathrooms, and made things out of wood. He really had a passion for wood working. In the spring and summer he landscaped and maintained our beautiful yards, raked the leaves in the fall, and kept the driveway plowed in winter.
Vincent enjoyed golf, hunting, fishing and making fishing poles. He liked popcorn, juju fish, chocolate, nuts and loved visits to Yolickity’s. He was a fan of outdoor TV shows and watching the Buffalo Bills. He loved nice cars and good music, like Ella Fitzgerald Duke Ellington and classical. He was an avid reader, mostly reading nonfiction historical biographies, especially about the beginning of the United States and statesmen, like Thomas Jefferson that were influential in its creation. He loved the law and was a big influence on his grandson who also became a lawyer. He dedicated himself to it and was proud of his grandson for pursuing something he believed in. He believed law was the best education anyone could receive.
Family memories of Vincent:
- him coming home late from work because of court, and making big hamburgers to eat for dinner
- Going to bed on Monday nights with my brother in the room we shared and when he fell asleep sneaking downstairs to watch Monday Night Football with dad. I’d fall asleep and dad would carry me to bed
- Helping him (or thinking I was helping) finish the basement when we moved to Briar Hill
- Dad taking me to Indian Guides and beating the drum with other Indian guide sons
- Camping at Camp Corey with Dad and Indian Guides
- Fishing & Crabbing in New Jersey
- Deer Hunting for many years with Dad, Uncle Jim and Cousin John
- Weekend trips on boat with dad, mom, Debbie. One where we went to Toronto against Dad’s better judgement due to weather, but made it and had a great time.
- Golfing with dad
- Campaigning for Dad for Greece Town Attorney, putting up signs, going door to door with him
- Raking leaves in the yard or just doing yardwork with him.
- Toward the end of his life, needing assistance and being happy I was there to provide the help
-The trips to Lavallette - lazy days relaxing at the beach; crabbing on Barnaget Bay; Seaside Heights (aka “The Boardwalk”); the OB Diner; miniature golf (Barnacle Bill’s and Putt-Putt; the year that Doug entered the tournament and spent all day putting while our proud parents watched), renting bikes, Ben Franklin’s, Dad and the boys going deep-sea fishing and coming back with lots of bluefish (that nobody, including Dad, liked to eat.) Much to Mom’s chagrin, we brought them back to Rochester to keep in our freezer until he could give it away; going to the Peek-a-Boo around the corner.
-Trips to NJ to see our grandparents, days spent at our Aunt and Uncle’s cottage on Honeoye Lake. Trips to Boston, Olean, Fredonia to see everyone at college. Trips to see Sue in New Hampshire, Doug in Virginia. Trips to Florida and the Outer Banks and the “trips” to Churchville to see Grandma and Aunt Mary Anne and Uncle Jim.
-Of course, there were lots of memories from home, too, both Berkshire Drive and Briar Hill. Routines to count on, simple things that made me feel safe. Spaghetti on Saturday night. Sunday mass at St. Lawrence, and afterwards Buckman’s and Capizzi’s for donuts and coldcuts. Football on Sunday afternoons in the fall and winter. Picking out and carving our pumpkins on Halloween and decorating the windows with spooky creations. Preparing for Christmas: the joy when Dad set up the Christmas tree for us to decorate with the ornaments we hadn’t seen since the previous year and put up the outside lights. Making pizza and playing Monopoly on New Year’s Eve. Summer days fooling around in the pool and backyard, weekends spent on the boat and at the marina.
Vincent had a commanding personality; it was always evident that he was in the room. He could be outgoing and fun to be around, enjoying time with others, but he could also be quiet and withdrawn, relishing his time alone. He could be bullheaded and didn’t give up on something he believed in. He took things personally and hated to lose, which made him a great attorney. He was skeptical and careful. His tendency was to look at the proverbial glass as half empty, but despite his inclination to think the worst he had a great sense of humor. He said many funny things, and had many funny phrases he would repeatedly use, like calling his kids “Kitty Cats.” That reference continued throughout his life to refer to little ones. His laughter was memorable.
Words that describe Vincent: honorable, proud, thoughtful, responsible, loving, intelligent, hardworking, accomplished, independent, protective. He will be missed by so many.