Michael C. Vacanti
Visitation: MONDAY, August 30, 2021: 4-8 PM at The Dietrich Funeral Homes, Inc., 2480 Kensington Ave., Amherst, NY 14226.
Service: TUESDAY, August 31, 2021: A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9 AM at St. Benedict Church, Eggertsville, NY. VACANTI – Michael C.
August 25, 2021. Beloved son of
Charles S. and Mary P. (nee Parisi)
Vacanti; loving brother of David J.
Vacanti; loving friend of Lindsey
Mannes; dearest friend of Jay Saraf;
also survived by many loving aunts,
uncles, and cousins. Michael was a
graduate of S.J.C.I. in 1990, Buff State
(BS) in 1995, and Canisius College (MS)
in 1997. Mike taught Senior Economics
for 20 years at McKinley HS, where he
also coached baseball and served as
a BTF Union Rep. Family and friends
may call Monday, from 4-8 PM, at the
DIETRICH FUNERAL HOME, INC.,
2480 Kensington Ave., Amherst, NY.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be
celebrated on Tuesday, at 9 AM, at
St. Benedict Church, 1317 Eggert Rd.,
Eggertsville, NY. Please assemble at
church. Flowers gratefully declined.
Memorials may be made to Crisis
Services, 100 River Rock Dr., Suite
300, Buffalo, NY 14207. Please share
memories and condolences online at
www.TheDietrichFuneralHome.com. Sept. 17, 1972 – Aug. 25, 2021
When Michael C. Vacanti was assigned to teach an economics class at McKinley High School, he took a look at the curriculum and decided some changes had to be made.
“It was just balancing a checkbook,” his father, Charles, said. “He said, ‘We’re going to start from square one and get these kids on a sound financial footing. And we’re not going to stop there.’ ”
Mr. Vacanti’s field was history, not economics, but he quickly acquired some expertise. He drew some of it from assisting his father in his real estate brokerage and appraisal business.
“He taught them the pitfalls of credit cards,” his father said. “He taught them about retirement. He told them they could be millionaires by the time they retired. A lot of them set up IRA accounts.”
He became known as the “finance guru” to his students and started his own consulting firm, Buffalo Financial Advisers, on the side. After they graduated, many of his students sought his advice about financial problems, which he provided without charge.
Mr. Vacanti died unexpectedly Aug. 25. He was 48.
Born in Buffalo, the son of teachers and the older of two boys, he attended St. Benedict’s School and graduated in 1990 from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, where he was a pitcher on the baseball team and played forward for the hockey team.
He worked a variety of part-time jobs, as many as three at a time, while he was attending Buffalo State College. He switched majors from computer science to history, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1995. He studied physical education while completing his master’s degree in education at Canisius College.
Beginning as a substitute teacher in Buffalo schools, Mr. Vacanti made such an impression with seniors at Grover Cleveland High School that they voted him “most outstanding senior teacher.”
He then got a full-time position at McKinley, where he taught history, economics, sociology, psychology and health for almost 20 years. The home page for his economics class declared: “Students will learn how to save money, avoid scams and become wealthy.”
He also arranged to set up free checking or savings accounts for students who didn’t have them and noted on his home page, “You are seniors about to graduate – I will treat you like adults …”
“What he wanted to do was make sure they were set for life,” his father said. “He was telling them how to survive in a very tough world.”
Mr. Vacanti supported activities for his own classes and for special needs students with money he received from selling snacks in his classroom. He used those proceeds to send them to “The Lion King” at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, paid for taekwondo lessons for many of them and covered expenses for field trips, often adding some of his own funds.
He was assistant coach of the McKinley boys’ baseball team from 2001 to 2010, designing their jerseys and helping them to Cornell Cup championships in 2006 and 2007.
For many years, he also was a representative for the Buffalo Teachers Federation. He ran for BTF treasurer on a ticket that challenged union president Phil Rumore in 2015. He also served as a mentor to first-year teachers and often taught in after-school programs.
Mr. Vacanti continued to play hockey with a team called the Black Sheep and had a broad circle of friends from his schools and workplaces. He hosted them every August at the end of summer vacation at an enormous party, the Vacanti-Palooza, at his home.
Plans are under way to establish a scholarship in his name at McKinley High School.
Survivors include his parents, Charles and Mary; his brother, David; and close friends Lindsey Mannes and Jason M. Saraf.
A Mass of Christian Burial was offered Aug. 31 in St. Benedict Catholic.