Vincent Raymond Ciruzzi Sr.
June 30, 1928 – July 11, 2021
In Loving Memory Vincent Raymond Ciruzzi, 93, passed away peacefully at home in Rancho Santa Fe on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Preceded in death by his beloved wife of 54 years, Canice, he will be forever in our hearts and memories as a loving, strong, witty and wise guiding light in the lives of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and as a tremendous contributor to the business and service communities throughout San Diego County. Born in Jersey City, New Jersey on June 30, 1928, to Louis and Gemma Ciruzzi, Vincent (Vin) grew up in the Bronx, New York, not far from the original Yankee Stadium. His favorite childhood memories included going with his father to watch his idols Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio swing a bat in the 1930s, playing stickball in the streets until dark, and spending Sundays with extended family to enjoy his aunt's large family meals. His favorite part of each meal was the couple of sips of wine Grandpa Joe would slip to him when "no one was looking." Vin remained close to his aunt and cousins, Elvira and Dorothea, throughout his life. An only child, "the girls" were like sisters, and he was delighted when they were reunited again in California, where all three moved as adults. Vin attended Cardinal Hayes High School in New York before moving to Phoenix, Arizona during his junior year. He graduated in 1946 from North Phoenix High School where he played baseball and football and was elected student body president within a year of his arrival. He earned a football scholarship to the University of Arizona where he joined Phi Delta Gamma Fraternity, ROTC, and met the love of his life, Canice Gardner. Vin graduated in 1950 with a B.A. in finance and served as an officer in the U.S. Army. Vin and Canice married in 1951 and spent much of their honeymoon at Fort Knox, Kentucky while he prepared for duty in Korea. After training, he was assigned to a tank division and led his unit in battle in Chorwon Valley. Like many veterans, he was humble and rarely talked about his time at war. Vin's Purple Heart and several medals chronicle his military story. After serving honorably in the U.S. Army, Vin began married civilian life in Phoenix. He began a 30-year career with Sears and Roebuck, moving often and quickly advancing to Senior Executive. Vin became known for his acumen in opening showpiece stores, as he first did in Anchorage, Alaska in 1966 and then again in El Cajon in 1969. After retiring from Sears in the early 1980s, he started a successful real estate investment company, Vincent R. Ciruzzi Investments, Inc. In the late 1980s, he was recruited by San Diego Sports and Entertainment, Inc., owner of the San Diego Sports Arena, to completely revamp the outdated facility at that time. As President and C.E.O., he restored the Sports Arena into an attractive and modernized arena which drew an eclectic and balanced mix of sports and entertainment. According to media reports at the time and during his tenure through the 1990s, the Sports Arena became a "mecca for most of the top names in the sports and entertainment industry," including Wayne Gretsky, Pavarotti, Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Whitney Houston and Big Bird.
After retiring from the Sports Arena in the late 1990s, Vin returned to a successful career in real estate investment while he lovingly took care of Canice, who passed away in 2005. After his final retirement, he enjoyed playing tennis and attending as many of his grandchildren's life events as possible. He was a fixture at their softball, soccer, lacrosse and basketball games, and never missed a graduation or wedding, no matter the distance. Vin's lifetime curriculum vitae includes an extensive list of accomplishments with community service organizations throughout San Diego County. His commitment to service began in the 1970s and 1980s, when he served as president of the YMCA and East County Boys and Girls Club, chairman of the board for Valley Medical Center, cabinet member for United Way, and chairman of the board for San Diego Junior Achievement. In the 1990s, he was honored by the United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Diego, San Diego City Firefighters, and, with his wife, Canice, the Burn Institute. He was a long-time board member of the Salvation Army, and in the late 1990s, oversaw the Ad Hoc Special Project Committee that transformed Joan Kroc's sizable donation into the state-of-the-art recreational, entertainment and educational center today known as The Salvation Army Kroc Center. Vin was also an active and involved member of Rotary in both El Cajon and San Diego during his career, and was named a Paul Harris Fellow, the highest award bestowed by Rotary for outstanding contributions to the community. Throughout a lifetime of challenges, accomplishments and service, he remained warm, kind and decent . . . an honorable man. His word was his bond and his positive attitude made everything better. He had a whip-smart sense of humor and enjoyed trading one liners, corny jokes, and silly puns with his children. First and foremost a family man, he excelled at being a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Vin's five children, Kate Ciruzzi, Anne Eowan (George), Joan Funke (Alex), Janet Dickson (Rob), and Vin Ciruzzi, Jr. (Laura), will pass on his memory and legacy to his 12 grandchildren, including Allison and J.J. D'Aurora, David Roberts, James and Greg Eowan, Sarah Funke Donovan, Anna Futoran, Christa Funke, Elena and Robert Dickson, Kayla and Kelsey Ciruzzi, and to his 11 (and counting) great-grandchildren. Vin also became best friends with a 20-pound pooch named Sonny who was always by his side. Always the consummate toastmaster, Vin is undoubtedly standing with Canice, raising a glass of wine to his beloved family and friends. Those who love and remember Vin are invited to raise a glass to his life well lived. Clink! Clink! A Requiem Mass will be held on Tuesday, July 27, at 10:00 a.m. at the Church of the Nativity, 6309 El Apajo Road, Rancho Santa Fe, 92091. Immediately following, Vin will be celebrated with military honors at El Camino Memorial Park, 5600 Carroll Canyon Road, San Diego, 92121. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Vin's honor to The Salvation Army Kroc Center, 6845 University Avenue, San Diego, 92115, (619) 269-1472, or donations can be made online in Vin's memory at: give-kroc.salvationarmy.org/give/279955/#!/donation/checkout.
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Tuesday, July 27, 2021