Vancisin, Joseph Richard
Joseph Richard Vancisin of Naples, FL and a longtime resident of Branford, CT passed away peacefully with his family in Atlanta on March 23, 2021. He was 98. Born in Bridgeport, CT to immigrant, hard-working parents who came to this country from the Ukraine in 1919, Joe was the 6th of 7 children. He was the first in his family to go to college, receiving a scholarship to Dartmouth College, graduating in 1944 with a combined degree from Dartmouth and the Tuck Business School. He later earned his Masters in Physical Education from Minnesota. Joe was blessed to have a wonderful family. He was married to and is survived by his wife of almost 70 years, Elizabeth. They have two children, 4 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. His son, Rick, his wife, Heidi, and their children, Chris with his wife Abby and Dana with her husband Connor and daughter, Finley. His daughter, Susan Vancisin, with husband, Dr. Kenneth Miller and their children, Rebecca Miller and Josh Miller. He was also extremely fortunate to be able to enjoy and to build his career around his other loves, Basketball and Golf. In High School, he was an All-New England Player for Bassick High School of Bridgeport, which won the New England Championship in 1940 and was runner up in 1939. A fun trivia fact is that Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of Basketball, threw up the ball for the opening tip at the 1939 Championship Game in one of his last public appearances. At Dartmouth, Joe was the starting guard on their 1944 team which went to the NCAA Tournament Final Game, losing to Utah in OT by 2 points. Following graduation, he served as a corporal in the U.S. Air Corps and was the player/coach for the Air Corps Services Team which won the All Services Basketball Championship in 1945. Joe transitioned his love of the game into coaching, first as an assistant at Michigan and Minnesota, then becoming Head Basketball Coach at Yale from 1955-75, where he won 3 Ivy League Championships. Another highlight of his time at Yale was as a huge underdog, upsetting highly ranked LSU and Pete Maravich for the Rainbow Classic Tournament title in 1969. During this time, he also was fortunate to be able to offer basketball clinics worldwide including in Sudan and Argentina. At Yale, he also coached Freshman Golf and was the manager for the highly ranked Yale Golf Course for several years. After retiring from Yale, Joe continued his close relationship with Basketball, becoming the Executive Director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches – the organization that represents the thousands of college basketball coaches at all levels. In this role, he worked with other coaches and the NCAA to protect, teach and improve the game of basketball in its ongoing evolution. He retired from the NABC in 1992. Joe's association and work with Basketball also brought him many honors. He was awarded the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993, elected to the Branford Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. He also attended 63 NCAA Basketball Final Fours and 60 consecutively from 1948-2008. Joe was fortunate to have had an eventful, diverse and fabulous life, which he recognized and for which he was very grateful. He has a wonderful family, which he loved very much and he was largely healthy for virtually all of his life. He loved his role as a teacher and has had a lasting impact on many of the people he has been around through the years. Many of his former players continued to remain in close contact with him through the years and they created a scholarship fund in his name at Yale in his honor. He will be missed by us and will be remembered very warmly by all.
For those so wishing, in lieu of flowers, please send any donations to: "The Joe Vancisin Fund for Yale Basketball" c/o Yale Athletic Department, 20 Tower Parkway, New Haven, CT 06511. This is a fund that was created by former team players who loved and admired him and is to be used as needed for the benefit of Yale Basketball. Or "Trustees of Dartmouth College" c/o Dartmouth College, 6066 Development Office, Hanover, NH 03755-3555. (In memory of Joseph R. Vancisin '44).
Published in The New Haven Register on Mar. 25, 2021.