Vince Perone Was the Ultimate Furman Fan
Greenville lost a lot of its energy and spirit last week when Vince
Perone died of a rare blood disorder. He excelled at many roles:
restaurateur, philanthropist, entrepreneur, civic leader, husband and
father. He was an uncommon man with the common touch.
met Vince in 1969. I was a newly arrived freshman football player at
Furman, and one evening during summer practice, Coach Bob King invited
Vince to meet with the team in the dining hall. He introduced Vince as a
ferocious competitor from Hackensack, N.J., who played each game as if
it were his last.
Coach King told us Vince had been an
All-Southern Conference player on Furman teams that had beaten Florida
State, Wake Forest and West Virginia. Coach King added that Vince had
served in the Marines and had coached at Furman before developing
several successful restaurants in Greenville.
were impressive indeed to a naive freshman, but what I distinctly
remember is the last thing that Coach King said about Vince that
evening. He declared that Vince has a heart as big as this room.
did indeed. Over the years, Vince shared his boundless passions with us
all. With Vince, what you got was what you saw, from your first
encounter through a ripening friendship. Whatever the need, whatever the
cause, Vince was the first to lend a helping hand.
met a stranger, and he used his gregarious personality and overflowing
sincerity to build his successful restaurant business. Every evening,
once the kitchen was humming, Vince would stroll through the restaurant
or deli, greeting each person with a smile, a warm handshake and a funny
story. He was even nice to Citadel graduates!
endeared him to his customers and helped make him a celebrity in
Greenville. And he often used his celebrity status on behalf of others.
Vince helped lead the Chamber of Commerce and the United Way, the YMCA
and the Palmetto Bank. He was largely responsible for the construction
of Paladin Stadium on the new Furman campus. And he single-handedly
organized the massive downtown parade when the Paladins won the national
championship game in 1988.
A robust man with an engaging smile,
firm handshake, ready wit and endless stories, Vince was a delightful
companion and an inspiring presence. No one in Greenville had as much
natural charm or charisma. No one displayed more relentless energy and
unflagging enthusiasm. No one combined such toughness with such
tenderness. Simply being near Vince lifted one's spirits, bolstered
one's confidence and expanded one's waistline. He was a dynamo of
energy, ideas and, above all, action.
Like Max Heller, Dan Joyner
and Buck Mickel, Vince had a restless determination to build a better
community for the benefit of all. His can-do spirit epitomized and
reinforced Greenville's distinctive civic energy. And, of course, he was
Furman's greatest cheerleader. Last week happened to be homecoming week
at Furman, a time when alumni renew and deepen their love for their
alma mater, a time when graduates converge from around the world to
celebrate and recall their friendships together.
excite the qualities that make us fully human: devotion, loyalty,
spirit, fellowship and love. If Furman could choose one alumnus to
represent all of the ideals and emotions represented by homecoming, it
would be Vince. He was the radiant symbol of all that Furman holds dear.
we have lost Vince's hearty physical presence, his courage and charisma
live on in our memories and in his beautiful family. His zest for life,
his life of service, his love for humankind and his heartfelt religious
devotion remain a vital example to us, pushing us to strive, to
improve, to build and never to yield to indifference or more powerful
We will remember and admire him for the exuberant man
he was no less than for all that he achieved on behalf of his family,
his community and his college. May such be said for all of us.