A LITTLE BIT ABOUT VINNIE FROM HIS MEMORIAL SERVICE ON 1/15/11 AT THE ROCK CHURCH:
Vinnie was a kind hearted soul who loved R&B music, animals, kids and his Cadillac. Although he did not always have much in terms of monetary possessions, he would give you the shirt off of his back and was always there for a friend in need. Vinnie had this sixth sense about him. We called him "security" because he always knew what was going on around him. He was able to size up a person or situation almost immediately and act accordingly and was almost always, right on the money. He was protective, especially of women and children and you always felt safe when you were with him.
Having a filet mignon appetite with a hamburger budget, Vinnie had to figure out alternative means to achieve his ends...... oh, and he did. Stories were told about how Vinnie was able to get him and his friends into free concerts, how he managed to get free, VIP parking at his favorite places like Del Mar racetrack and free groceries from Vons. Vern told of how they got in to a Chicago concert by bringing in a USB cable. Vinnie told him to walk in with the USB cable and if security stops him, tell them there is a problem with the register at the beer tent and you are there to switch USB cables. It worked!
Vinnie loved kids and was able to connect with them; he would have made a good dad. Nickie, Jack's daughter, talked about how special Vinnie was to her and her brother and how he was always looking out for them and asking about her brother's grades.
Vinnie was always there to help his friends. Mike talked about the time there was a recall on Firestone tires. Mike's truck, at the time, had firestone tires. Well, apparently Mike took too long to get his tires changed. One day, he got a call from the dealership telling him to bring in his truck for four brand new replacement tires. Vinnie had called and arranged to have all of his tires replaced and didn't even tell Mike he was doing it. What Mike didn't say and probably because he wasn't aware, was that Vinnie was concerned that Mike's kids were riding in that truck with firestone tires and they might get hurt.
Vinnie loved animals. His neighbors had a dog that Vinnie basically adopted. He called him Chewy (I don't even know the name the neighbors gave the dog), he fed him and he played with him. Well, Chewy wasn't exactly a nice dog. In fact, he bit just about every one of Vinnie's friends and Vinnie, along with a couple of strangers. The dog was going to be put to sleep. Vinnie put the dog in "protective custody" as he called it. He dog napped him and brought him to Tina Street to save him from being put down. Neil, a friend and neighbor of Vinnies' who along with Mike lived at the compound at the time, talked about how the neighbors brought home ducks. Well, Vinnie used to feed the ducks and clean out their living quarters on a regular basis. Neil reminisced about how the ducks would know the sound of Vinnie's Cadillac and every time he pulled up, they would go nuts, quacking to greet Vinnie and you would here Vinnie talking to them "hey duckies, hey duckies" - I can hear Vinnie saying it! Vinnie saved these ducks the fate of being the stars of Easter dinner by duck napping them and bringing them to a pond (the neighbors must have really loved Vinnie!)
Amy talked about the first time she and Vinnie met in Ocean Beach. They became fast friends. Amy came back from Wales to attend Vinnie's memorial service. She promised him that she would one day return to her home in San Diego and she did. She was devastated that she came back to say goodbye to Vinnie instead of doing the fun things they wanted to or have done together, like take a trip to Mexico, drive over the Coronado bridge again and eat the spaghetti with shrimp and scallops that Vinnie made especially for her because it was her favorite dish. Amy said that Vinnie owns a piece of her heart and always will and she was sorry she could not fill the gap left open by his immediate family.
Vinnie was sensitive and unfortunately, if you hurt his feelings, he struck like a cobra instead of simply telling you, "You hurt my feelings'. Vin was the master of flattening tires. If you did something to Vinnie, you better make sure you have bottled air in your trunk because without a doubt, when you least expect it, you will find you have at least 2 flat tires! He didn't want to cost you any money so he didn't slash the tires; he simply made it so there was a slow leak of air. A mere inconvenience but somehow that satisfied him and then he felt bad. Tim forgave him for poisoning him by putting visine in his beer and keying his car. As a side note, the poisoning and keying accusations are alleged. Vinnie never admitted he did these things and he usually tells me everything. He also said that even at times that he and Vinnie had a falling out and hadn't talked in weeks; he knew he could always count on him if he needed a favor.
Ariel shared his expression of fondness for Vinnie and of the value he felt to have him as a friend. He said, when he and his friends drove somewhere in separate cars, everyone always had to follow Vinnie because Vinnie had to get there first. So somehow he knew that Vinnie would be the first to go to heaven. He knows that one day Vinnie will meet him at the gates of heaven and show him all of the good places that he has found and can get in free. He also noted that when people talked about Vinnie, witty always came up in the conversation. In the dictionary, there were many synonyms for witty but the one that fits the most is "brilliant" and Vinnie was truly brilliant.
Vinnie was oftentimes sad. Mike shared with the attendees the pain and guilt Vinnie experienced from an accident that took place many years ago that killed two people right before Christmas. This accident took the parents away from three kids. Vinnie never forgave himself for this. Not long ago, thanks to facebook, Vinnie was able to reach out to the children. He wrote to each of them expressing his grief and sorrow to them. Vinnie was so relieved that each of them responded positively and forgave him. When I visited in early December, Vinnie seemed at peace and I am so grateful to the family for this gift.
Vinnie was humble. He did not realize how valued he was. There wasn't anyone that could convince him that he was a good person. He strove for the acceptance and love of his mother and father that unfortunately, even in death, he was unable to attain. Pastor Darren asked the attendees to please take this lesson home: If you are a father, tell your kids how much you love them. If you are a son, tell your father how much you love him. Stay in touch and talk to your friends and family, because you never know when or if you will see them again. These are words of wisdom that I want to share with all of you who read this page.
To all of Vinnie's friends, please know that he valued each and every one of you and would have been so touched to see all of you at his memorial and completely amazed at the kind words that everyone had for him. I know he was looking down crying tears of joy.