Vincent B. Colgan

Vincent B. Colgan - Rochester Cremation

Vincent B. Colgan, age 84, passed away peacefully on March 9 in his home in Pittsford NY, surrounded by his loving wife and daughters.

Born July 24, 1939 in Kilcoursey Clara, Co Offaly in Ireland, Vince attended St. Peter’s Seminary in Wexford Ireland. After being ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, he arrived in Troy NY in 1964 at age 25, serving the parishioners of St. Joseph Church and teaching at Catholic Central High School. Four years later, he transferred to St. Francis de Sales Church in Herkimer where he ministered for eight years.

Vince left the priesthood in 1975, taking a position as a Rehabilitation Counselor at what is now known as The Arc Oneida-Lewis Chapter where he began his lifelong advocacy for people with disabilities. During his 37-year tenure with The Arc, he progressed through several positions, eventually rising to Assistant Executive Director. Vince led the conversion of neglected empty real estate in Utica into sites for state-of-the art rehabilitation programs and services, while ensuring that individuals had safe, accessible transportation to the programs. He even helped to draft the American with Disabilities Act. Vince remained a fierce advocate for all marginalized groups even after his retirement.

Always in motion, Vince seemed to effortlessly weave together his advocacy, his devotion to family, his love of music, and his athletic pursuits. An accomplished runner, he completed 20 Boilermakers (15k road race) in Utica NY. At age 53, he won his age group with a time of 56 minutes. He also earned six medals in the Empire State Games. He was also an avid golfer and made many lifelong friends through his love for the game.

Vince’s genuine warmth, sparkling eyes, and Irish lilt made him memorable to co-workers, community members, friends, and family. But to hundreds of others throughout Upstate NY, he is perhaps best known as the “Irish Balladeer”. An accomplished musician, he played guitar and sang songs from his homeland. He sang in church halls, coffee shops, bars, and social gatherings; often accompanied by his daughters.

His paid performances helped fund his annual return to Ireland with his wife and children; but many were for no payment. He sang in nursing homes. He sang for children in the hospital. His gift of music was a highlight of family gatherings large and small, connecting everyone in a deep and lasting magical interlude. His singing and guitar playing were a constant comforting backdrop in the family’s household, his beloved dogs laying at his feet and a woodstove burning by his side.

The greatest treasures of his life were his wife Anne (who he married in 1978) and his three daughters Nora, Deirdre, and Brigid. He was completely devoted to them and never missed a track meet or school concert. He would brag about his girls to anyone who would listen, fretted when they were away, and basked in their adoration of him.

At age 72, Vince suffered a life-changing stroke, losing the use of the right side of his body and his ability to talk. With his characteristic grit and determination, he persevered through an arduous rehabilitation regimen and then persisted with a daily circuit of therapeutic exercise. Against the odds, he regained his speech, and re-learned how to drive a car and walk once again. His rehabilitation was an inspiration to many and a beacon of hope for his friends with disabilities.

Vince often told people that the stroke was the best thing that happened to him as it resulted in he and his wife Anne relocating to Pittsford NY where he was able to watch his grandchildren grow.

Vince’s life spanned an incredible period of change. He was raised in a home in rural Ireland without indoor plumbing. In his later years, when he struggled with travel, he would facetime his siblings back home in Ireland, and participated in weekly Zoom meeting, sharing his Irish music with friends across the globe.

Vince is survived by the love of his life, wife Anne Colgan, and the joys of his life: daughters Nora (Malcolm) Franklin, Deirdre (John) Howe, and Brigid (Dom) Colgan; and grandchildren Casey, Taylor, Ailish, Colm, Shea, Dommy and Roisin. He is predeceased by his parents, Emily and Jack Colgan; his mother- and father-in-law, Betty and Steve Remis; his brother Sammy; his brother-in-law Charlie Ellis; his brother-in-law Rick Remis; and his sisters-in-law, Nuala and Ann Colgan. He is survived by his siblings in Ireland: Brian (Pearl), John (Marguerite), Marie Ellis and Pat; and many nieces and nephews in Ireland and America.

Condolences and memories can be delivered to the family at or through postal mail: Colgan/Franklin Family, 49 Devonwood Lane, Pittsford, NY 14534.

4 Condolences

  1. Chad Cattadoris on March 15, 2024 at 9:38 pm

    What a beautiful obituary for a beautiful man. He gave me my first job stacking wood and always made me feel right at home when visiting his family. I will miss you Uncle Vinnie!

  2. JDR on March 15, 2024 at 11:27 pm

    My tears keep falling. I love you Uncle Vinny.

  3. Paul Joseph Remis Jr on March 18, 2024 at 5:33 pm

    He was a treasure. I think I am a sucker for the Irish accent but Uncle Vinny was always the coolest guy in the room, and he did it without trying. Hang in their guys.

  4. Jeanne McElhinney on March 28, 2024 at 4:54 pm

    I just read in the Democrat & Chronicle the article written by Mark Sisti about your husband and father. He sounds like an amazing person whom I wish I had known. I wanted to email Mark about the column, but have not been able to find his address. Please accept my sincere condolences and convey to Mark my appreciation for his column.
    Thank you.
    Jeanne McElhinney

Leave a Condolence

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.