Garces Memorial High School mourning loss of longtime faculty, sports icon

Nov. 20—It's impossible to say when Vince Fanucchi retired from Garces Memorial High School.

Maybe that's because he never really did.

Sure, he retired officially in 2016 as a Garces employee, said his brother and former Garces President John Fanucchi. But Vince remained active at the northeast Bakersfield campus almost up to the day he died.

"He touched numerous lives, not only as a coach, but as an instructor, as the athletic director, dealing with families, dealing with parents, dealing with, especially, students," said John Fanucchi.

"There have been a number of students who have reached out to me, spoken to me, or spoken to other members of our family just to say, 'Vince was my coach' or 'Vince was my teacher, and he always made me feel like what I had to offer was of value and was important.'"

John Fanucchi found his older brother at his home the Monday after Veterans Day. Vince had passed Nov. 12 or 13. He was 74.

On its Facebook page, the school lauded the campus icon, stating, "Garces Memorial mourns the recent passing of our beloved Vince Fanucchi."

Born June 6, 1949, Vince first attended Garces as a student. He spent six years there because in those days, the campus also included junior high students.

Fanucchi graduated from Garces in 1967 and began teaching and coaching on campus in 1977, John Fanucchi said. Besides teaching English, social studies and U.S. history, coaching football, track, cross country and other sports, Fanucchi served as yearbook adviser and library administrator before serving two decades as athletic director. Most recently, he volunteered as the official campus historian.

"This is a great loss for the Garces community and he will be dearly missed," the school said in its post. "The Fanucchi family, including his brother John, have expressed how much Vince loved Garces."

The reverse was also true.

"I loved Vince like family," said Trevor Horn, director of communications at Garces. "He was an amazing human who was as selfless as they come.

"This one hurts," Horn said of the passing of the Garces legend.

The Garces Memorial Alumni Board echoed Horn's sense of loss.

"Our hearts are broken," the board said on its Facebook page. "The passing of Vince Fanucchi is such a loss for the Garces community and to all who knew him.

"What a legacy he leaves behind. There will never be anyone like him," they said. "To say he will be missed does not begin to capture what he means to all of us."

Vince's absence will surely be felt, but his legacy remains, said John Fanucchi.

He was inducted into the Garces High School Hall of Honor in 2021, and one of his proudest achievements was founding the Garces Christmas Soccer Tournament about 30 years ago.

"That soccer tournament grew to be one of the biggest soccer tournaments in the state, if not in the nation," John Fanucchi said. "I think he was working on it this year when he passed away."

So many people who have reached out to the family have said their memories of Garces will be forever connected to their interactions with Vince Fanucchi.

The eldest of seven siblings, Vince never married and had no children, John said.

"There's no question that Vince was unique," he said. "His entire career was Garces High School."

The cause of his brother's death has not yet been determined, John Fanucchi said. Services for Vince Fanucchi are still pending.

Reporter Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC