September 20, 1936 – November 29, 2018
Thomas “Tom” Vitanza died at home on November 29, 2018, at the age of 82. He was a generous, intellectually curious, progressive thinker, strong in his convictions and character, fiercely loyal, a man of his word, and above all else a husband, father, brother, uncle, and son who loved his family and friends and would do anything to help them. He was a true renaissance man pursing science, philosophy, ethics, politics and law with equal vigor.He was the proud son of Sicilian immigrants, born in Jamestown, New York, raised in Santa Clara by his parents Carl and Anna (Guiffrida) Vitanza, from the age of 7 in a tiny apartment steps from Santa Clara University where he would eventually attend Law School, be married at Mission Santa Clara to his loving wife of 48 years who survives him, Lydia (Sanchez) Vitanza, practice law and raise his family, Elisa Vitanza (who survives him) and Carlo Vitanza (deceased).He believed in education, formal and informal, and made sure he and his family had both. He joined the Air Force immediately following graduation from Santa Clara High School in the hopes of paying for college on the GI bill, which he eventually did years later at San Jose State University, where he met his wife, Lydia. While she was enamored after their first date to “My Fair Lady”, it would be several years and much travel before they would meet again and marry. Early on, the Air Force recognized his talents in science and he received technical training that lead to postings around the world (to only “cold” places, to his dismay), and formed the basis of his first career with RCA Records (to London and beyond) and eventually back to Santa Clara where he designed, created and programmed the county criminal justice-information Database – CJIC that is still in use today and was one of his proudest career accomplishments.He was both ahead of his time when this valley had more produce than technology and a simple traditional man in the most gracious, best definition of the word. If you could help someone you did, you word was your bond, and the greatest respect you could pay to someone was to really listen, and he did.In his 20s, while living abroad, his younger sister, Mary Ann Bruegmann, faced tragedy losing her firefighter husband and was left alone to raise 5 young children. He dropped everything and moved in to help pick up the pieces and forever became “Uncle Tommy” in a situation that would have overwhelmed a lesser man. He loved his time with them. To the end of his life, helping his sister and his nieces and nephews, Mark, Janine, Don, Chris and Joe (Carrera) and later Mary Margaret was his greatest joy. He had only two children, Elisa and Carlo with Lydia, but the family of his heart was large and ever expanding.Many thought that Tom was born a lawyer and that the law made him who he was but it was he who brought his robust sense of justice and equality and endless curiosity and analytical mind to the law. As a young man, when he was helping his struggling sister, he fought to establish a compensation fund, the first of its kind in this county, for fallen fighters’ families so that Mary Ann and her kids would be cared for and every family afterward. The legal career he would start in his mid-30’s was simply an extension of his core values, his willingness to help no matter what, and the chance to use better tools to help.You always knew where you stood with Tom because he told you. And the art of the impassioned kitchen table discussions (to some might have appeared like arguing) to the Vitanza household, it was just talking, and Tom was always happiest holding court at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee or 12, a plate of his mother’s biscotti, a game of scrabble or cribbage, a penny a point, and a lively philosophical, political or moral question to permeate the air between plays. That would be a great day, until the next time.Rosary, Thursday 12/6/2018 at 7 pm at Lima Family Santa Clara, 466 N Winchester Blvd in Santa Clara. On Friday at 10am a funeral mass will be held at Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, 80 South Market St., San Jose, CA 95113, (408) 283-8100, burial to follow at Santa Clara Mission Cemetery, 490 Lincoln St, Santa Clara CA 95050, (408) 296 – 4656.In Lieu of Flowers, donations can be made on behalf of Thomas Vitanza for the benefit the Ehlers-Danlos Society a global community of patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers dedicated to saving and improving the lives of those affected by Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a rare connective tissue disorder that many family members inherited, including his daughter Elisa Vitanza who survives him and struggles with its symptoms. To donate by mail, send check (payable to The Ehlers-Danlos Society) to P.O. Box 87463, Montgomery Village, MD 20886 USA or online at https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/giving/.
- Rosary Service Thursday, December 6, 2018
- Funeral Service Friday, December 7, 2018
- Committal Service Friday, December 7, 2018