Vinicio Donato, Teacher from UFT
* Retired teacher
* Director of the UFT Just for Fun department
Vincio Donato, age 86, was a founding member of the UFT who taught for 35 years, but he was best known in recent years as the longtime director of the union’s Just for Fun department.
“Vinny” began teaching in 1956 and joined the union’s early marches for better working conditions and benefits for educators. He became the chapter leader at JHS 10 in Queens in the 1960s and then became the UFT District 30 representative. He was elected to the UFT Executive Board in 1970. He retired from teaching and his DR and Executive Board positions in 1991.
That’s when he became director of the Just for Fun department, where members signed up for trips, received discounts and were able to purchase UFT-tagged items including jackets and umbrellas. Along with longtime co-workers, Melody Rondinelli and the late Denise Koster, Vinny also staffed UFT member registration at AFT and NYSUT conventions. He retired in 2019.
“He believed in the union and all that it stood for,” said his daughter, Donna Donato, the chapter leader at Washington Heights Academy in Manhattan. “He provided support, love and caring for all union members.”
Vinny and his family moved to Astoria when he was 8, and he remained a committed member of that community until his death. He was chairman of Community Board No. 1 in Astoria for 40 years.
Vinny loved to travel, taking family excursions to Europe, Canada and Mexico. He built a second home in Hunter, New York, in 1995, and spent much time there with his wife, Flora; daughter, Donna; and grandson Antonio. He also loved to invite other friends and family members to spend time there.
He loved to shop and had plenty of opportunity to do so in his Astoria community.
“He was generous, kind and caring,” Donna Donato said. “As one friend said, ‘He would give you the shirt off his back.’”
Vinny also volunteered for other community organizations and sat on many boards. He was an appointment member of the Elmhurst Hospital Advisory Board in 1973 and served as chairman of the board from 1982 to 1984. He also served on the Queens Museum Board of Trustees and was on the boards of directors at the Museum of the Moving Image and the Astoria Civic Association. He was a board member of the Greater Astoria Historical Society and the Astoria Restoration Association, and he was a longstanding member of the Astoria Heights Homeowners Association. Vinny served on the Selective Service System, New York City Local Board 157. He was also a New York State driving instructor and served on the National Safety Council.
Vinny was named Astoria/Long Island City Kiwanis Community Person of the Year for 2006.
Besides his wife, daughter and grandson, Vinny is survived by more than a dozen nieces and nephews.
Donna Donato said the outpouring of love for her dad since his death has been overwhelming and much-appreciated.
“I am proud of my dad, for not just being an amazing father but for all that he stood for,” Donna Donato said. “When he believed in something, he went all out. And the UFT is something he strongly believed in.”
Condolences may be sent to
20-42 49th St.
Astoria, NY 11105