Vincent Del Negro, 85, passed away at his home on July 7, 2021, surrounded by his loving family. Born in Springfield, MA on March 27, 1936, the son of the late Carmine Sr. and Madeline (Coughlin) Del Negro, “Big Vin” was a star athlete and Boys Club legend growing up. He graduated from Springfield Trade High School in 1955 before enlisting to serve his country in the United States Army, where he not only drilled as a soldier, but also starred on his base’s basketball and baseball teams.
After his service, he accepted a scholarship to continue his education and play basketball at Northeast Mississippi Junior College. He immediately broke out as a JUCO star at Northeast Mississippi, averaging more than 35 points per game in his first six games. In his second season, as team captain, Vin led the nation in scoring, averaging 33.4 points per game and was named first-team All-American. This success brought a full ride to play for legendary coach Adolph Rupp at the University of Kentucky.
After his college days, Vin put basketball behind him to focus on starting a family with his wife Peg. He began his career at Liberty Package store in Springfield. In 1970, he opened Vin’s Package Store across from the Springfield Armory’s Water Shops. He then opened his first bar “Vin’s Gym” not far from where basketball was founded 80 years earlier. For more than a decade, Vin’s Gym was the unofficial campus bar of Springfield College, and a place remembered fondly by alumni of that era. He also owned the 5th Alarm on Worthington Street.
By the 1980s, Vin had sold his business interests to be more involved in helping Peg raise their three teenage children. It was at this time that Vin dusted off his basketball skills, as son Vinny was beginning to show signs of being a basketball star in his own right. Vin was present when Vinny was named MVP of the 1987 ACC Basketball Tournament, again when he was drafted by Bill Russell into the NBA in 1988, and as a trusted and valued mentor throughout Vinny’s playing and coaching career.
Vin’s star perhaps shined brightest beginning in 1992 when he began his last career: that of loving and doting grandfather. For the last three decades of his life, Vin was a constant presence at basketball, hockey, volleyball, baseball, lacrosse, swim meets, and soccer games; recitals, plays and talent shows; and host to countless daytrips, sleepovers, and family vacations.
Besides his parents, he was predeceased by his brothers Carmine Jr., Philip Del Negro and his wife Barbara (Serafino) and William Del Negro and his wife Laura (Griffin). He leaves his loving wife of 63 years, Margaret (McGuane) Del Negro; their children Theresa Ahearn and her husband Robert of Marshfield, MA, Vinny Del Negro and his wife Lynn (Krajack) of Paradise Valley, AZ and Nina Marchese and her husband Larry of Windham, NH; his grandchildren Ashley, Bobby, Maggie and Dylan Ahearn and Jackson and Casey Marchese; his sister Patricia Kmon and her husband John as well as a niece and four nephews. He also leaves Dick White of Springfield, one of his closest friends for more than 50 years.
Family and friends are invited to gather on Sunday, July 18, 2021, from 2:00-6:00 PM at Forastiere Smith Funeral & Cremation, 220 North Main Street, East Longmeadow. Funeral services will be held on Monday, July 19, 2021 beginning at 9:45 AM at the funeral home followed by a Liturgy of Christian Burial at 11:00 AM at Holy Name Parish, 973 Dickinson Street, Springfield. Committal services with military honors will be at 1:00 PM at the Massachusetts Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery, 1390 Main Street, Agawam.
Memorial contributions in Vincent’s honor may be made to the Boys and Girls Club of West Springfield, 615 Main St, West Springfield, MA 01089.