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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane businessman Vince Bozzi, who died of COVID-19, remembered for ‘boundless optimism’

Vince Bozzi, co-founder and publisher of Bozzi Media, died Wednesday of COVID-19.  (Courtesy of Angie Bozzi)

Well before he was producing issues of Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living magazine as publisher and co-founder of Bozzi Media, Vince Bozzi had Bozzi’s Place.

He ran the Spokane “nightclub” in his teens out of the garage of his childhood home with a very exclusive guest list, said Angie Bozzi. She would know: Angie and Vince’s other sisters were his main clientele.

“He was a born idea person,” Angie said, “trying his hand at selling seeds, having the biggest paper route in the region and coming up with fun activities for all of us.”

Vince Bozzi’s business acumen developed later with his wife, Emily, with whom he founded Bozzi Media and pursued a number of other business ventures. The two also hosted a variety of social events through the company, such as Hot Summer Nights and the Best of the City awards.

Bozzi, 63, died Wednesday of COVID-19 after spending more than a month in the hospital. He was hospitalized Dec. 9, a day after Emily Bozzi died of COVID-19, Angie said. She was 59. The two are survived by their 30-year-old son, Jordan Bozzi.

In a statement announcing Bozzi’s death, representatives of Bozzi Media said the team is “committed to carrying on the legacy he began so many years ago.” Nostalgia Magazine Editor Stephanie Regalado said the Bozzi family intends to keep the company without any changes that would make the brand unrecognizable.

“Vince was a titan,” the Bozzi Media statement said, “someone who was fulfilled beyond measure in his work to honor others, to highlight the very best of our region, to ruffle up the status quo and encourage original thought, and to live life to the fullest.”

A GoFundMe page had raised more than $10,600 as of Friday to help the Bozzi family with funeral and hospital costs.

Asked what could be done beyond the GoFundMe, Angie called for people to practice social distancing, wear masks and avoid large crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For their part, the Bozzis hosted some events since the pandemic started. That includes the 20 Under 40 Awards in early November at 180 Bar and Bistro, a business Bozzi started with a longtime catering company earlier this year.

“We all feel more strongly than ever how important that is,” she said. “I know that they would feel the same way on how to be careful and take it more seriously.”

‘His dream just kept growing’

A member of the Rogers High School Class of 1976, Bozzi earned degrees in business administration and accounting from Eastern Washington University.

Angie said Bozzi met Emily more than 35 years ago during a trip to the Philippines. They were married before he even returned, eventually settling in their first home in north Spokane.

“Vince and Emily were so similar in many ways,” Angie said. “Vince was an idea person, Emily (was) terrific at sales and finding and serving clients. The path they took together was always his dream. His dream just kept growing.”

Their foray into publishing started in 1996 with the launch of Spokane’s Best Book, a direct-mail coupon book, according to a December 2019 issue of Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living magazine. After the book became the magazine in 2001, Bozzi Media expanded the brand with additional publications (they were folded back into the overall magazine in 2016).

The company acquired Nostalgia Magazine about a year ago. Regalado, the former editor-in-chief of Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living who has had several positions over her approximately 10 years with Bozzi Media, said Bozzi brought much joy amid print industry stresses.

They challenged each other at times when producing the magazine, Regalado said – but when that happened, “there was a baseline of true respect.”

“I have always admired Vince’s ability to be very human and not just kind of mechanical as a business professional,” she said. “He truly did care about the community. He cared about other people.

“I know Vince, through all his hard times, was absolutely willing to work with all of his clients in the best way he could on a one-to-one basis,” she added, “not just a blanket approach.”

Local developer Dave Black described the Bozzis as “great connectors of people.”

Black, CEO and a principal of Black Realty Inc., said he’s known Vince Bozzi since the magazine started. H e owns the building in which Bozzi Media was previously located.

“I really enjoyed his company,” he said. “The staff at the magazine is amazing, and I’m sure they’ll carry on. I’m hoping that, without the Bozzis, that they can be effective with what they do. And I’m sure they will, because the Bozzis were such good examples of what could be accomplished.”

Gerald Dicker, president of GVD Commercial Properties, said the Bozzis were among the first friends he and his wife, Patty, made after moving to the area from Los Angeles.

“His boundless optimism is what I’ll miss the most,” Dicker said in an emailed statement. “We shared the same ‘anything is possible so go ahead and try’ philosophy which is what enabled he and Emily to grow a coupon-book business into a regional media company.”