Sam Vinci: A great career, a great life
Longtime brick and masonry professional celebrates 90 years
By Ed DeMask
There are many things that can make the commonly used quote “Life is a Gift” ring true. A happy marriage, a long satisfying career, good friends and family, and the knowledge that you’ve made a difference in the world.
All of these are perfect descriptions of how Sam Vinci enjoys his life when pausing to look back and reflect on his first 90 years. The longtime brick and masonry professional recently hit that birthday milestone just after Thanksgiving – a great reason why 80 of his friends and family threw him a surprise birthday party on Nov. 30th at Ruffled Feathers Country Club in Lemont.
Most brick and masonry industry professionals know the Vinci name – Sam’s father Nick worked in construction for years and owned Nick Vinci & Sons Masonry with Sam and his brother Frank. He followed his dad into construction.
“Basically my dad was always a carpenter by trade but he employed masons and he built homes and did a lot of odd jobs including concrete masonry and carpentry,” he said. “So when I got out of the service in 1946 I figured long as he was a carpenter I would go on the other end and become a bricklayer and so I started that around 1947 by going to night school and studying construction and architecture. Then I was able to skip the apprenticeship since I already knew more than most at that time.”
Born in Bridgeport, Sam says constructing buildings that made neighborhoods look good offered him a sense a pride.
“You definitely felt good seeing some of the buildings you put up just driving by them,” said Vinci. “It kind of gave me a sense of me having accomplished something with my life. Plus, my brother and I were awarded for a project at one point and that was very satisfying.”
Another great aspect to his life has been working with family. Being able to work alongside his father, brother and later his own sons was a truly wonderful feeling, he said.
“Basically I went to a technical high school and then night school at IIT and because my dad was in construction I grew up with him and worked with him every summer doing odd jobs,” Vinci said.
“My dad was a wonderful man and very knowledgeable but one of those fellas that grew up with the industry and knew what he was doing. We had a good relationship.”
Sam retired from the Masonry industry in 1991. He served on the Chicago Labors Welfare and Pension boards from 1983-2010 and he was president for the Chicago Mason Contractor Association from 1983 to 1991.
He worked hard every day to make a good living. “You worked hard or you didn’t eat, that’s how it was,” he said.
Sam has a proud history in the armed forces – he was in the Air Force from 1943-1946 during World War II, and a few years ago he was selected to go on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
“I was a radio man on a B29 bomber and I was stationed on Guam and the Marieta islands,” he said. “I flew like 23 missions over Japan during that time.”
But being in construction and the Air Force are only a part of Vinci’s life – his strong family is what makes him happiest. He and his wife Mary will celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary in April 2015, and they have three children, including Jerry Vinci, Executive Vice President of Illinois Brick Company.
Vinci also likes to golf as much as possible and enjoys learning about new technologies, as well.
About the Author
Ed DeMask is a former newspaper reporter with eight years of daily journalism experience and more than 15 years of marketing experience, handling both small, local companies to mid-size and large national companies.
This article first appeared at masonryadvisorycouncil.blogspot.com.