Vincent J. Naimoli, 81, of Tampa, FL, a Notre Dame alumnus, prominent and successful businessman, and founder of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, passed away on Sunday, August 25, in an assisted living facility in Tampa, after a long illness. One of four children of a second-generation Italian immigrant, who worked for the New York subway system, and who became a self-taught stationary engineer, Vince graduated from Paterson (NJ) Central High School, and from the University of Notre Dame in 1959 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Enrolling at Notre Dame in September 1955, both as a member of the Fighting Irish Football team, and as a Naval ROTC student, while working a student job in the University’s South Dining Hall, he graduated from Notre Dame in June, 1959. Pursuing graduate studies in mechanical engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), he later earned his MBA degree from Farleigh Dickinson University.
All three universities received significant scholarship and research funding from him in later years, as did several other academic institutions. At the University of Notre Dame, his leadership gifts included one of four wings in the Mendoza College of Business in 1995, the creation of Club Naimoli in The Joyce Center, when the former Athletic & Convocation Center underwent a major renovation in 2009, an endowed grant-in-aid in baseball in ND Athletics, and several endowed undergraduate scholarships. He served for over 32 years as an active and engaged member of Advisory Councils at Notre Dame, for both the Mendoza College of Business (1986-2006), and the College of Engineering (2007-present).
An acclaimed and highly respected national and international business executive, Vince Naimoli became widely known as the original owner and CEO of the then-named Tampa Bay Devil Rays, bringing major league baseball to the Tampa-Saint Petersburg area. As the leader of an ownership group in 1995, and overcoming several obstacles, he and the Devil Rays, are credited with, “changing the region’s sports landscape forever,” according to one MLB executive.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph & Margaret Naimoli, and his brothers Alan and Raymond. He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Lenda, daughters Christine Naimoli, Tory Jarvis, Alyson Dorfman and Dr. Lindsey Naimoli, and his sister Jill Naimoli Kane. Also, by five grandsons, Jack Jarvis, Matt Jarvis, Will Jarvis, Enzo Dorfman and Mark Dorfman. And, by his sister-in-law, Glenda Young.
Funeral services will be held in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, August 31.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, on the Notre Dame campus, on Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 3:30 p.m., with Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. Notre Dame president, as presider. And, Fr. William M. Lies, C.S.C., provincial of the U.S. Province of Priests & Brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross, as homilist. Entombment will take place in Cedar Grove Cemetery, on the Notre Dame campus.
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