John J. Vacanti
August 18, 1930 – January 20, 2021
Survived by wife, Carol A. Vacanti; children: John Vacanti (Mary Jo), Cathy Alm (Leonard), Lynn Turco, Pat Vacanti, Mike Vacanti, Chris Vacanti, Lisa Theisen (Jim), and Lori Schmidt (William; 29 grandchildren; 25 great-grandchildren.
VISITATION (following CDC guidelines): Sunday, January 24th from 2pm to 4pm at the West Center Chapel, with VIGIL SERVICE at 4pm. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Monday, Jan. 25th at 10am at St. Gerald Catholic Church, 9602 “Q” St. GRAVESIDE SERVICE: Tuesday, January 26th at 10am at Omaha National Cemetery with military honors by American Legion Post #1. Memorials will be directed by the family.
To view live broadcasts of the Vigil Service and Mass, go to www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Service” button on the home page.
Beloved husband of Carol A. Weston; adored father of: John (Mary Jo) Vacanti, Cathy (Leonard) Alm, Lynn Turco, Patrick Vacanti, Michael Vacanti, Christopher Vacanti, Lisa (James) Theisen and Lori (Will) Schmidt; cherished grandfather of: Jennifer (Alex), Jamie (Scott), Cristy, Brian (Melissa), Eileen (Kenny), Dan, Ryan, Matthew (Yajaira), Nicholas (Dani), Jessica (Mark), Stephanie (Brett), Ashley (James), Brooke, Jared, Alan, Christopher, Jason (Zadia), Janelle, Sarah (Matt), John, Caitlin, Anthony, Lacie, William, Jacob, Jayce, Sophia, Joshua, Lauren and 33 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Giovanni “John” and Grace Vacanti; brothers, Fred, Kayo, Sam, and Joe; and sisters, Louise and Annie.
John was a proud first generation Italian-American born to parents, John and Grace Vacanti, after they immigrated to the United States from Sicily following World War I. One of seven children, John grew up working alongside his parents and siblings at the family’s grocery store on 8th and Pierce Streets. John graduated from Central High School where he competed on the school’s wrestling and football teams. He also wrestled competitively for the University of Nebraska-Omaha, from which he graduated with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Biology in 1956. From 1953 to 1955, John proudly served his country in the 761st Squadron of the United States Air Force Reserve, for which he earned the National Defense Service Medal.
In February 1953, John met the love of his life, Carol Ann, at his going away party just one night before he was to leave for military training. As fate would have it, John’s departure was delayed two days in a row, giving them just enough time for three dates. But three is all it took for them to fall in love. Many letters and seven months later, John and Carol were married on October 4, 1953. They made their family home in Omaha, and had eight children, four boys and four girls. John and Carol recently celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary together during which he said that his marriage and children were his “proudest legacy.”
John started his career as a biologist, working for Cudahy and Fairmont for a combined fourteen years. In 1972, John and Carol purchased a building in Council Bluffs that they turned into their family restaurant, aptly named “John’s Restaurant and Lounge.” John worked alongside Carol, and their children serving family-style favorites to his loyal customers for over thirteen years. In his retired life, John was a businessman and serial entrepreneur who loved to pass on his ideas about the “next big thing” and helping his children, grandchildren and friends realize their own dreams.
Quick-witted, loyal and generous, John loved to make everyone laugh and was sure to make friends wherever he went. His love of horseracing was exceeded only by his love for his family. There is not a person that knew John that hasn’t bet on him and won. Above all, John was everyone’s champion and the best at making everyone he met feel special. There will never be another like him, and he has left an indelible mark on us all.