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Park Place of Elmhurst

The Entertainer: Park Place of Elmhurst Resident Recalls a Life of Laughter

The Entertainer

“I always wanted to be a comedian,” Joe Vinci says, “but I was afraid people would laugh at me.”

Joe’s delivery is impeccable, the comic timing of a seasoned performer. As he sits in his Park Place of Elmhurst apartment and tells a story of his childhood, he interrupts himself to ask, “Did you hear the one about the rope?” Then adding, “Just skip it.”

The Entertainer_blog_Portrait_350x350.pngJoe and his wife were the first people to move into Park Place of Elmhurst when it opened in 2012. “We spent four years researching where we wanted to move,” he remembers. “We knew we were getting the best value here overall, but people who work here were just tremendous from day one, and they kept it up after we moved in. Everyone here just wants to take care of you.”

Joe knows what it’s like to find creative ways to make people feel at ease after spending most of his life as a successful entertainer. He laughs easily as he recalls his vaudeville days, where he and his wife brought their unique blend of comedy and music to crowds on the West Side and in downtown Chicago. During the day, he was a buttoned-up accountant, but at night, he and his wife made people forget their worries and lose themselves in music and laughter.

“I liked both careers,” he says. “Both of those things are a part of my story.”

He may have been skilled in the world of finance, but entertaining was his passion. From a young age, he was the life of family parties, breaking out his accordion and even inspiring admiration in a young man named Ed Vodicka, a family friend’s son who would one day become the Chicago Cubs’ organist. Today, Eddie honors his friend Joe by playing complimentary concerts for the Park Place residents.

“It’s good practice for him, and brings great happiness to us here,” Joe says.

Joe retired from accounting at age 60, but continued his musical career, playing part-time at churches, funeral homes, and anywhere else he could lift people’s spirits with his unique gifts. Music was a language that spoke louder than words could, especially in times of grief.

“I still love music, all music,” Joe says. “That’s one of the things I love about living here. They bring in entertainment, different kinds, all the time. Some I like better than others, but everyone is somebody’s favorite. The staff here just want to make sure they have something for everyone.”

For Joe, entertaining others has always been a source of joy, for not only him, but all of us who are blessed to be in his audience. Beth McGowan Welch, Executive Director at Park Place of Elmhurst, echoes that sentiment and the value that humor has brought to Joe’s life and those around him.

“Joe has been such an important part of the Park Place of Elmhurst community,” she says. 
“He can always be counted on for his wit and charm.  It’s difficult to leave Joe’s presence without a chuckle, which regularly lightens my day.”  

We are so thankful he picked up the accordion at age 13 and “never really put it down,” as he says. 

“One hundred and twenty buttons,” Joe says, “and I know ‘em all.”





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