A Force for Good: Honouring the Life and Legacy of Enrico Visentini

“No one is ever really gone.” – Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi

Better known as Rico or Hank to friends and family, Enrico Visentini was a fervent fan of the Star Wars franchise, but he was so much more than a film buff. He was a brilliant man with a stellar business sense, an entrepreneur with a penchant for plant-based pastries, and, to his nephews, the best babysitter ever. Most of all, Rico was known for his big heart.

Throughout his life, Rico dedicated much of his time and expertise to improving the world around him by helping those who were less fortunate or facing adversity. Sadly, in 2019, Rico passed away from a heart attack. He was only 51 years old.

Today, his generous spirit lives on in the memories of the many lives he touched; in an Oakville bakery he helped launch; and at St. Joe’s, where a $200,000 gift in his Will has been dedicated to helping the Hospital fulfil its greatest needs.

To recognize Enrico’s gift, a conference room in St. Joe’s intensive care unit has been named in his memory. The space provides staff with an area to connect and collaborate for critical discussions about patients, and to have a break and recharge to care for others.

“My brother’s legacy is one of generosity. He spent his whole life helping others and used his last wishes to continue giving back to his community,” says Marco Visentini, a local lawyer, a former member of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation’s Board of Directors, Rico’s brother and the executor of his estate.

“After leaving a portion of his Will to his family, Rico did what he has always done. Give back. He chose to donate the bulk of his estate to charitable causes that were important to him. He would be comforted to know his gift to St. Joe’s will fund a vital project or essential piece of medical equipment with the power to help so many people in our community.”

Like many Hamiltonians, Rico was born at St. Joe’s. As he grew older, the Hospital’s mission to deliver compassionate care to those in need was one that resonated with him. Rico was deeply involved in caring for his parents as they aged – an experience that taught him about the important role that hospitals, and compassionate care, play in our lives and the lives of our families, especially during difficult and challenging times.

He spent his formative years at Cathedral High School, where he was the valedictorian of his graduating class and an active member of a student-driven social justice group. The latter experience instilled in him a great desire to be of service to others. Rico went on to study and achieve excellence in business and finance.

In recent years, he worked as a financial consultant and was a professor at McMaster University and George Brown College, where he made a meaningful impact on the lives of those he taught. As one former student wrote, “To me, he was far more than just Professor Visentini. He was an amazing soul who genuinely cared about all his students. His passion for teaching was evident even in the most difficult classes of Micro and Macroeconomics. [We] shared many special memories together including the time I nearly gave up because I had failed my first test ever. He motivated me to pick myself up and work even harder to defy all the odds stacked against me.”

A kind heart coupled with a bright mind enabled Rico to use his expertise in financial planning to maximize his assets and transform them into a force for good. He knew that charitable giving through a Will or estate could greatly reduce or even eliminate taxes owed by his estate, while still making it possible to leave funds to his loved ones and support the causes close to his heart.

“Whenever Rico spoke to me about his Will, he was very passionate about the advantages of charitable giving,” Marco says. “His estate was planned in the most tax-efficient manner possible, and it all goes back to his financial acumen and understanding of the Canadian taxation system.”

The Purple Horseshoe Baking Company, a bakery in Oakville, was Rico’s unfinished entrepreneurial dream. Today, thanks to his dear friend and business partner, Elpidio Galasso, the bakery is booming, and one of its best-selling products is a sourdough loaf made with a 10-year old starter yeast inspired by Rico and affectionately referred to as Hank’s Original.

What Rico enjoyed most, however, was being an uncle to his nephews, who were the light of his life. Rico and the boys would anxiously wait for the next Star Wars movie to be released so they could see it during opening week. To them, their beloved uncle isn’t really gone. He is simply embarking on a new adventure in a galaxy not so far away. His Force will live forever in their hearts, as it does at St. Joe’s.

This story was originally published in our 2021-22 Donor Impact Report. Click here to read the full report and discover other inspiring stories from our supporters.

When You’re Considering a Planned Gift

For those wishing to leave a donation in their Will, a member of our Foundation team is always available to discuss the many benefits of charitable giving through your estate, and to help you plan your gift. Our team can ensure your wishes are known and understood, and can help explain fundraising priorities or needs within the Hospital that may be most meaningful to you and your family. Click here to learn more.