Vincent Marino died Sunday, Feb. 15, at Our Lady of Lourdes. His death certificate no doubt cites a medical condition, some bitter-end malaise of gerontology. But Marino — Vince to many, Doc to many others — was 91. He died of a long life spent well. That’s what did him in. Damn the certificates. And he was one of Lafayette’s last real newspapermen. Journalism is poorer for his passing.
Vince spent more than 50 years as an editor at The Daily Advertiser. Half a century. No one stays that long at one place, save for marriage, without loving it, and he passed on that love to hundreds of writers he mentored. Along the way he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and earned master’s and doctoral degrees at the university now called UL Lafayette, where he also taught for 20 years. His 1978 dissertation was titled, “Creating Conscience through Black Humor: A Study of Kurt Vonnegut’s Novels.” In the ’70s Vonnegut resembled Marino.
Vince was born in New York. His parents were Sicilian immigrants. Shoemakers no less. But the Marino family moved to Franklin when he was 4 years old, and the faint accent that stayed with him was a little Old World and a little Bayou Country.
His sphere was wide, and the writers he encouraged to pursue the story and settle for nothing less, to value accuracy, to love and respect the power of language, they’re sprinkled about, better for his tutelage.
Yet Vince’s geographical sphere, like his physique, was diminutive. Five-seven, 135 wet to the skin and standing on his toes. And he spent the majority of his life right here in Lafayette, though few who met him on the street would have guessed it. There was something exotic about Vince in this land of 10-ounce beers, which he praised; they stay cold to the last drop. But he preferred whiskey. Doc could talk boudin and Baudelaire with equal aplomb. He was dapper but never foppish. His neatly trimmed mustache was a man’s mustache.
Vince was too scrawny to enlist during World War II. Instead, he was drafted into the Army’s communications division, the Signal Corps. He served in the European theatre. The G.I. Bill helped him get his first college degree in journalism at LSU. He returned to Lafayette and landed a job at The Advertiser, where he would remain until 2001. Even today, as this article is written, his name appears with other members of the editorial board on the Op-Ed page.
He trained reporters to be aggressive, to be unflinching, but most of all to be fair — to write with facts that never bury the story, and to write with flair that never suffocates the facts. And for the columnists judged both on choice of word and substance of argument, he bestowed with sleight of hand two gifts: the love of a phrase that surprises and delights, and an aversion to cliché.
Vince is survived by his wife, Geraldine, four sons, seven grandchildren, two great grandchildren.
It’s hard to write a tribute to Vincent Marino. It cannot surmount the impossibly high outcrop of standards he raised for himself and for his writers.
Clambering for phrases to describe him, one may grasp at “one of a kind” or “one in a million.”
But don’t pretend that grip will hold.
Doc would’ve clicked his tongue at those clichés and run a red mark straight through them.
JUNE 16 This story in the Advocate tells us that the state Department of Education is taking a look at the Course Choice program. They're doing that because the legislature (probably responding to reporting by Tom Aswell, who does not work for the Advocate) ordered them to make sure that these private companies aren't signing six-year-olds up for high school Latin classes without their parents' knowledge or consent.
JUNE 17 Columnist James Gill writes about the recent complaint of death row inmates at Angola: it's hot as you-know-what in their cells, with the heat index topping 120 for months. Since we're not executing people anymore (Gill opines) then we should probably officially end the practice of putting people on death row. The prisoners, by the way, are not asking for cool breezes: they only ask for clean water and a temp that doesn't top 88.
JUNE 17 Here's blogger Ian McGibboney's take on the Baton Rouge plan to give bus tickets to homeless people who have a home with family who live far away. Taken from one point of view, it could be a good solution for some people. But McGibboney raises some good points here, including this one: Why not improve opportunities for everybody in Baton Rouge so these people can find the jobs they came to BR for?
JUNE 17 Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry talks here about the Zimmerman trial, but the real topic is the concept of a black man being more dangerous, somehow, than a white man in a fight. It is an interesting discussion, and one that may enlighten people who think that racism doesn't exist because nobody's keeping black folks from eating at the Woolworth lunch counter.
JUNE 17 Here's an interesting column from Baton Rouge Business Report's publisher, Rolfe McCollister, about anger against the government. It's brewing because of recent revelations about the IRS and the GSA, he says. It's readable, not just for the subject, but because of McCollister's collection of sources: Huffington Post, National Review and Wikipedia. That's a combo you don't see every day.
JUNE 17 In this American Press post, Jim Beam talks about the high school diploma track that lets kids who aren't interested in university get what they want and need out of high school. The diplomas get kids ready for technical school, Beam explains, and then he goes on to give some of the numbers. Some of these numbers might really surprise people who think technical school is second best. And, Beam adds, a college diploma does not guarantee anybody a job.
JUNE 17 The Washington Post reports here that OSHA is going to investigate the explosion that occurred last week in Donaldsonville, shortly after the other fatal accident in Geismar. As soon as the site is safe, State Police will be pulling out of the Donaldsonville plant to make way for OSHA investigators, the story reports. (Hey, here's an idea: why don't they go a couple miles down the road and figure out what happened when that massive sinkhole started sucking up land.)
JUNE 17 Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board of Supervisors in this post, taking a look at the many ways board members have served Gov. Jindal and not their university or their students. The board members are esteemed members of their fields, but can't seem to do anything but say "yes" to Jindal, regardless of the cost to LSU, Mann opines.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.