Cover photo for V. James Vanicek's Obituary
V. James Vanicek Profile Photo
1933 James 2024

V. James Vanicek

September 8, 1933 — April 27, 2024


V. James Vanicek, Jr., 'Jim' 90, of Middletown, RI, died on April 27, 2024 at home. He was married to Sally (Zautner) Vanicek for 68 years.

Born in Newport, RI on September 8, 1933, Jim was the son of the late Venceslaus 'Van' and Dorothy 'Dot' Vanicek.

Jim attended Rogers High School and graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Ornamental Horticulture in 1955. Through his participation in the ROTC program, he became a lieutenant in the US Army. In November of that year he married Sally, who he had met at Cornell, and was then stationed in Fulda, Germany for the next two years. Jim was in the tank division and patrolled the border between East and West Germany and led the rifle team traveling around Europe for competitions.

Being in Europe opened a whole new world to Jim, who was a true islander in that he preferred to stay close to home. His experiences there and a new-found love of skiing brought Jim and Sally back to Europe for numerous vacations where they developed their love of the Alps, traveling and good German food.

In 1957, Jim returned to Rhode Island Nurseries working with his father and uncle, Jack Brownell becoming the 3rd generation to operate the nursery. He held many positions including president of the RI Nurserymen's Association, New England Nurserymen's Association and served on committees for the American Association of Nurserymen. He continued in the family business taking over the operation as president in 1980 until he retired in 2000.

In 1959, their dream of starting a family began with their son Thomas (Tom), followed by their daughter, Karen and their youngest son, Bruce. They spent their family time boating, vacationing at "the Chalet" in New Hampshire, and traveling at home and abroad. Jim was a life member of Newport Yacht Club.

Jim was a member of St. Mary's Episcopal Church serving on the vestry as well as being a trustee.

Jim is survived by his wife, Sally and their children, Tom (Lauren), Bruce (Kelly), both from Portsmouth, RI and Karen (Paul) of Sigmarszell, Germany. He also leaves ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Jim was predeceased by his sister, Jean Babcock.

Visiting hours will be held on Tuesday, May 7 from 4:00 -7:00 pm at Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway, Newport, RI.

On Wednesday, May 8 there will be a procession at 9:00 am from Memorial Funeral Home to St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 324 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI for the funeral service at 10:00 am. Burial will follow in St. Mary's churchyard.

Memorial donations may be made to the Middletown Historical Society or the Middletown Tree Commission .

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of V. James Vanicek, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visiting Hours

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

4:00 - 7:00 pm

Memorial Funeral Home

375 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840

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Funeral Service

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am

St. Mary's Episcopal Church

324 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI 02871

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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