Meet Vincent Esposito, MD
The Round of His Life: Vince Esposito's 18 Years as Chair of the St. Mary Charity Golf Tournament
Major golf tournaments often start with a vision. The Masters at Augusta was the vision of golf great, Bobby Jones. The Pebble Beach Open, in the good old days before corporate sponsors took over, was Bing Cosby's clambake. Then there was Bob Hope's Desert Classic, and Danny Thomas' St. Jude Classic.
For St. Mary, its Charity Golf Tournament was the vision of Dr. Vince Esposito. After several years of lobbying Sr. Lucille Desmond, President and CEO of St. Mary, to start a tournament, Vince finally convinced her successor, Bill Nicely, to give it a try. Vince organized a team of loyal St. Mary physicians, including Dr. Pat Cahill, fellow radiologist, and fellow Loyola Marymount alum, Dr. Steve Shea, Director of St. Mary's ER. He then recruited some ofthe former Foundation Board members like Dan Ridder, Dave Shlemmer, Bernie Jones, Randy Stricklin, and Dan O'Callaghan to join him on the committee that would organize the very first tournament.
That inaugural tournament was held on June 14, 1993 at the Palos Verdes Country Club, and the proceeds were used to benefit the Pediatrics program at St. Mary. A full field of 144 golfers teed off at 1:00 PM and the tournament was born. The first annual Leslie Esposito, M.D. Trophy, named for Vince's dad who practiced at St. Mary for 42 years and who passed away in 1992, was awarded to the winning foursome of Dr. Mo Heilbron, Sr., Peter Levine, Bill Edwards, and Tim Mincarelli. A total of $37,339 (net) was raised for St. Mary's Shots for Tots Program.
In subsequent years, Vince and his team of dedicated volunteers would diligently make the tournament bigger and better. A morning flight was added, professional PGA tour pros and long drive champions were enlisted, and a VIP pre-tournament for sponsors was added, turning the tournament into a two-day extravaganza.
Vince convinced major sponsors to support the tournament – companies like Automac Parking, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Kodak, GE, Johnson & Johnson, Toyota, Anderson Lithograph. He also convinced the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word to join his family as perennial sponsors of the Tournament.
As a result, the net revenue continued to grow, peaking in 1999 with a net amount of $211,000. In its 18-year history, the tournament has netted $2.6 million, and the proceeds have helped to build a new Pediatric Unit, a new Short Stay Surgery Unit, a renovated Labor and Delivery Unit, as well as much-needed equipment in the Neonatal ICU, Pediatric ICU, Labor & Delivery Unit, Child Care Center, and Child Development Center. More than 10% of that total has been personally donated by Vince and Janet Esposito and the rest of the Esposito family. Moreover, every year since the tournament was founded, Filomena Esposito, Vince's mom, presents the Esposito trophy to the winning team in honor of her husband, joined by Vince, brother Mike, and sister Luciann.
At the tournament on June 21, 2010, Vince announced his retirement as Chair, after 18 years. "Eighteen holes is a round of golf. Eighteen years completed my very rewarding round as Chair of this great tournament. It has been a joy to work with my family, my Co-Chairs and my wonderfully loyal committee to bring golfers together for one day every year for an invigorating round of golf at a beautiful course – and to raise money for a magnificent medical center, St. Mary, my dad's home for 42 years, and my home for 33 more!"
The legacy of the Esposito family will surely live on as the St. Mary Charity Golf Tournament will begin its next round of 18 years in support of St. Mary.