The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Richard J. 'Rico' Vacca


MARSHFIELD, Wis. - Richard J. "Rico" Vacca, 68, of Mercer, died Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, at St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield, with his loving family by his side.

He was born Jan. 24, 1945, in Ironwood, Mich., son of the late Dominic and Mary (Carlotto) Vacca, attended Roosevelt School in Montreal, and graduated from J.E. Murphy High School in Hurley in 1963. He spent two years in the Wisconsin National Guard, then received a Bachelor of Science degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse in 1967. He then taught high school physical education at Winona-Cotter High School in Winona, Minn., for six months, and served a fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse for a year, receiving a Master of Science degree in education in 1968. He then taught in the Racine Unified School District from September 1969 to his retirement in January 2000.

Rick was a member of St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church in Mercer and the Wisconsin Education Association. An avid soccer coach, he was also a national and international gymnastics judge, and served as head soccer and gymnastics coach at Racine Horlick High School from 1986-1993. He also was a licensed Wisconsin Soccer Association referee and referee instructor, and was the assistant soccer coach at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha from 1994-1999. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, gardening and cooking, and especially enjoyed traveling to Corsica to reconnect with relatives.

On Jan. 27, 1968, he was married to the former Susan L. Gentile of Hurley at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in LaCrosse by the Rev. Monsignor John Paul. Susan survives.

Also surviving are a son, Dominic (Emily), Eugene, Ore .; two daughters, Felicia (Brian) Rizzo, Lake Bluff, Ill., and Nicole (Haig) Klujian, Highland Park, Ill .; four grandchildren, Mathew and Dominique Klujian and Iva and Lark Vacca; two brothers, Anthony (Carol), Mesa, Ariz., and Andrew (Linda), Kenosha; sister-in-law, Diana (Michael) Cross, Green Bay; brother-in-law, Frank Gentile, Mosinee; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Per Rick's wishes, cremation has taken place.

A Memorial Mass will be celebrated Monday, Dec. 16, at 11 a.m., preceded by visitation at 10 a.m., at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hurley, with the Rev. Frank Kordek OFM, celebrant.

Luncheon will follow at the Liberty Bell Chalet in downtown Hurley.

Rite of Committal and interment will be in St. Mary's Cemetery, Hurley, in the spring.

A celebration of Rick's life will be held in Racine at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Hope Lodge, 611 W. Doege St., Marshfield WI 54449, or the Ace Soccer Club, 1026 So. 36th St., Milwaukee WI 53215.

Arrangements have been entrusted to McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Ironwood, where condolences may be expressed online at


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