Bay Oaks Social Senior member Vinnie Mulinaro hung on to life like he was the life of the party and many times he was.
Mulinaro, a B.O.S.S. member since age 94, passed away at the age of 103. He would have turned 104 on Oct. 7.
Known for his signature Fedora hat and his full dance card, Mulinaro always had a smile on his face.
Vinnie Mulinaro, a member of Bay Oaks Social Senior group, passed away at the age of 103 recently.
Longtime family friend and financial advisor Diane Bartell said Vinnie was an "upbeat part of my life" and would be dearly missed. She lived near him and would visit him frequently.
"Vinnie lived his life to the fullest," she said. "He always said you have to smile and laugh everyday and have either a glass of wine or beer everyday. He also said you have to be kind. If you can't say something nice, don't say it. That's the way he was."
Bartell said Hope Hospice was by his side every day during his final days.
"He did not want to die alone," she said. "I can't say enough about Hospice."
Mulinaro was aided by Seniors Helping Seniors from June 2011 until just a few months ago when his health diminished to the point where it seemed best for him to go from his own home into a nursing home. All the caretakers at the senior assistance care facility were saddened when they heard about his passing.
"He was a delightful gentleman that actually uplifted your spirits by his personal nature," said Evan Zelden of Seniors Helping Seniors. "We feel very pleased that we had the opportunity to be able to serve him for as long as we did. It's sad that many times when someone does leave their home, they digress even faster."
Mulinaro lived in Southwest Florida for more than 40 years. He had an aortic valve problem for roughly 10 of those years.
The Carbondale, Penn. native was known as a "social-type person" who looked forward to his interactions at Bay Oaks and Chapel by the Sea as well as his routine visits from friends and caretakers.
As a member of B.O.S.S., Mulinaro enjoyed bocce, playing cards, singing and dancing. He liked polka, cha-cha, rhumba, the twist and square dancing. He often described philosophies as the secret to his longevity.
"You try to do a good dead everyday. If you see a person without a smile, give him one of yours," said Vinnie during his 101 birthday party. "I never talk about anyone, only if they are present to defend themselves. And, I love to hear stories."
At past birthday parties, he told stories about being a Marine who fought bandits in Central America and about being at his ailing wife's bedside at Hope Hospice. He was married to Antoinette for 73 years.
Mulinaro also spoke about retiring from his own garment pressing business at age 62 and of being one of 13 children. He was the eldest of four remaining siblings.
Longevity was not in the blood line as his father passed away at age 51 and his mother died at age 72.
Prior to his diminished health, Vinnie had no dietary restrictions. He ate pretty much anything he wanted into his 100s. His favorite food was fried chicken.
Last year, he celebrated his birthday with other B.O.S.S. members, family friends and Seniors Helping Seniors employees at Sunflower Cafe in Summerlin Square.
"I'm feeling really good, and I'm still looking for a dance partner," he said then.
Mulinaro leaves behind two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Bartell said Vinnie will be cremated and his ashes will be sent to his grandchildren in New Jersey, where there will be a service and his ashes will go into a vault with his wife's ashes.
"Even though I had to take care of him, I considered him a good friend," Bartell said. "We went out to lunch once a week, and I would sit with him each morning after walking my dog. It wasn't work to be with him. It was a friendship."