Vincent Paul Buscemi

Buscemi—Vincent Paul Buscemi, 89, on March 11, 2017, at home in New York City. Vince was born on May 18, 1927, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Sicilian immigrants Rosa Giacconi and Santos Buscemi. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at Pratt University on the GI Bill and a master’s in engineering management at Drexel University. He worked in Pittsburgh and New York City, including at Westinghouse (where he recorded two patents), Consolidated Edison, and Gibson Consultants.

He met Ernestine Gillespie, called Ernie, in Pittsburgh, where they joined the Community of Reconciliation Church and later married. Moving back New York City, he joined Fifteenth Street Meeting and took early retirement to do God’s work as a witness against war and racism. He walked across Central America in the midst of continual armed conflict in the 500-person International Peace March; slept outside a refugee’s room as a guard in Riverside Church’s Sanctuary Movement; and discerned more about his leading at Pendle Hill study center in Wallingford, Pa., where he wrote about his Central American march in a Friends Journal article.

He and Ernie transferred their memberships to Morningside Meeting in New York City, partly because of his belief that all loving couples have the right to marry, and he continued his commitment to the LGBTQ community, marching in the Gay Pride Parade every year. At Morningside Meeting he served on and clerked many committees, especially Ministry and Counsel and Peace and Social Concerns—committees whose work was for him inseparable: silence and prayer opening the way to social action, and social action deepening silence and prayer. He often led the meeting in walking meditation. Always aware of the stranger who was not listened to or welcomed, he engaged outsiders with full attention and respect.

His witness against nuclear weapons led to imprisonment in Brooklyn and Washington, D.C. He stood silently at the Arch in Washington Square witnessing for peace; met with Governor Mario Cuomo’s aides about closing the Staten Island Navy base; and volunteered not only at the Fifteenth Street Meeting homeless shelter, but also at a Catholic Worker house, where he ensured that the soup was ready and the physical plant was in shape.

He served on Pendle Hill’s general and executive boards and on Friends General Conference (FGC) Central Committee, clerking the ad hoc committee that became the Committee for Ministry on Racism (CMR). He and Ernie led workshops on self-analysis of racism in sessions for Baltimore, New England, New York, Northern, and Southeastern Yearly Meetings, which subsequently developed anti-racism committees, and he and Ernie wrote the pamphlet Lessons from a Book: Here I am, Lord. He served on NYYM’s Committee for Ministry on Racism and helped develop the Sharing Fund and Spiritual Nurturance groups.

He hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to New York and loved camping, traveling, and dancing; family and strangers; and the Spirit whose motion his life testified to. Morningside Meeting and the larger Quaker community will long remember his wisdom, his inclusive and welcoming nature, and his dedication to social justice. His spirituality’s honesty was solid, tender, and raw, and he often quoted Muriel Bishop that “truth without love is violence, and love without truth is sentimentality.”

Vince is survived by his wife, Ernestine Buscemi; his children, Anthony Buscemi, Jodi Walker, Robert Buscemi, Rochelle Buscemi, and Paul Michael Buscemi; 11 grandchildren; a sister, Marie Verdolino (Charles); and much love.


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