Picture at left taken in Oct. 2005
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Al Angelo, widely considered the most
respected football coach in city high
school history, passed away 4/19/08 at age 77.
Al holds the city record for most championships won -- with 10 in 21 seasons
at Frankford High (1965-84, '87) -- and his numbers for winning percentage
(.833) and wins-per-season (8.8) are also near the very top of those lists.
Al was viewed as a second (even first) father by his players and many remained
in touch through the years. That was especially so during the past year-plus as he
waged a courageous battle against cancer.
We welcome your comments about Al, and they'll be posted below.
Please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, we will gladly post pictures. Those may be sent to the same e-mail
address. Thank you very much.
**Look below the contributions for the DN story that detailed Al's second
(and permanent) retirement after the '87 season.**
Services were: Thursday, April 24, at St. Martin
of Tours (Oxford Circle).
The procession passed Frankford's stadium en route to St. Dominic Cemetery.
Contributions . . .
Photo of coaching legends, courtesy of John McBurnie . .
L to R -- Vince McAneney, Bill "Dapper" Walsh (former
ABA referee), Tom Mullineaux, Al Angelo, John McAneney,
Mike Capriotti, Ron Cohen.
Just wanted to say really sorry
to hear about Mr. Angelo my thoughts and prayers to his family. He was one
of the nicest guys I have ever met. Not a time went by that he didn’t ask
about my brother Jim and to tell him to say hello.
-- Tim Hueber
Al was a true gentle...gentleman that I am honored to be able to call my friend...He really is my husband's dear friend but through the years we became close friends...He would call or see us and talk football with Vince but with me he wanted to know about me and my grandchildren, he wanted to know how I was feeling and what was going on. He always seemed very interested in me and my life...Al always made me feel so very special, so very important...My life is truly richer and blessed because I can say "Al Angelo was my dear friend...my life will be a little empty because of the loss but my heart is filled because he is in my heart forever."
I love you and will miss you very much.
(Vince McAneney's wife)
I first met Al Angelo in 1950 when I was a sophomore & Al was a freshman at West Chester University. Al transferred from Mississippi State after a football injury to his shoulder. Al could not play because of the injury and I got hurt my sophomore year. The next year, we both coached the junior varsity team. I was the quarterback coach and Al was backfield coach. We only played three games. One game was Drexel. I had two quarterbacks, Vince Trombetta and Howie Zeitz, my roommate and later department head at Washington high. I called both together before the game. Flipped a coin. Heads you start, tails you start. Trombetta won and they alternated quarters. I forget who won the game. I never thought I would meet someone who knows the game, loved the game, loved the kids and could coach the game better than Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Don Shula than my brother John until I saw Al Angelo in action. They are the best.
I will miss Al. I will always love Al. There is no better.
-- Vince McAneney
P.S. -- I went to one of Al's games and saw he carried a clipboard the whole game. My next game I tried the same thing. After two minutes the clipboard was thrown into the middle of the field . . . No more clipboards.
The coach will be missed at our luncheons. He was a true leader and the most respected man that I ever knew. The Markward Club will miss him.
Dennis W. Hill
Secretary of the Markward Club
I learned of Mr. Angelo's passing and wanted to offer
my sincere condolences to the Angelo family at this
time of deep sorrow.
I met Al Angelo for the first time in the gym at
Frankford High School. I was a skinny, painfully shy
15 year-old sophomore student. With knees wobbling and
palms sweating, I somehow worked up enough courage to
ask him if I could help out as team manager.
Sensing my nervousness, Mr. Angelo put his arm around
my shoulder, introduced me to his assistant Ron Howley
and welcomed me to the Frankford Football fraternity.
As you well know, we enjoyed great success , thanks to
our beloved coach. I felt very lucky to be a part of
this wonderful tradition, however small.
We all know about the many championships but the real
measurement of the man I (and many others) had come to
know was that Mr. Angelo was a true gentleman who
worked to ensure we all studied hard in school and
represented Frankford in the proper way. Next to my
Dad, he was my hero growing up.
Through the years I was one of the fortunate former
students who remained in contact with Coach and I
reminded him often of how grateful I was to him for
giving me the opportunity to serve. He always told me
each member of the team had a part to play and being a
manager was no different in his mind. I feel fortunate
that in our last telephone conversation that I told
him I loved him.
Perhaps the Lord has called him, knowing he needed a
coach in Heaven to lead his football team this coming
May God Bless you Coach!
-- Michael Weick
He was such a gentleman. He will be missed. I always enjoyed his company at the Markward Club Luncheons. He always had time for everyone.
-- Bob Dillon
Markward Club Member
Growing up on Pilling St. for the first three years of my life, every time I saw Coach Angelo he seemingly always had a smile on his face. I always called him Coach Angelo even though I was born after he stepped down from coaching Frankford. I wasn't lucky enough to play for him, but I could see the determination and passion burning in his eyes that fueled his players to win. No matter the age difference Coach Angelo would talk to me as if I was his best friend. He always told me to make my family and him proud of me by doing good on the football field and even better in the classroom. Every time I spoke to him the stories I heard from former Frankford players, fans, family, you name it, I realized why the stories gave me "goose bumps". He molded boys into men. Coach Angelo bred into his players an instinct to win, in all aspects of life. No matter who you were Coach Angelo became a mentor to you and everyone he encountered. I knew him for seventeen years, and from the time I could remember seeing his face to the last time I saw him, for some reason I just see him, like I did in my Mother's year book, with his championship jacket on, his clip board nestled underneath his arm coaching from the sidelines. Even when he was still with us, his spirit was still on the sidelines with the great group of men that stepped in hoping to be as good as Coach Angelo. Now he is resting for a while in heaven waiting for Coach Capriotti to start 2-A-DAYS so he can help him win another Championship. Coach Angelo was always, and always will be my mentor, my coach, but most of all my friend. On behalf of the Law, Roussis, and Lemauro families, I extend my deepest sympathy to Mrs Angelo, Skippy, Alisa, Annette, Arlene, and the rest of the Angelo family.
-- Jimmy Law ( current North Catholic student athlete. But Pioneer at heart)
Al was very involved in the planning of his funeral, from the songs to the pallbearers to everything -- and he approached it like he would a game. I convinced him that having the service at St. Martin's would make the most sense [it's a few blocks from Frankford HS], even though he wasn't a member there. I spoke with Father John Kelly, the pastor at St. Martin's, and he said it would be OK to hold the service there. He also said he wanted to meet Al, just to get to know him a little. So we drove down to Seaville (near Ocean City) and Father Kelly had a nice talk with Al; he said it was OK for me to sit in. He asked Al if he was OK with the idea that he was going to die pretty soon. Al said he was, that he'd had a really great life and was accepting his fate. Father Kelly then asked him about going to heaven. "I think heaven is going to be a really great place. I think I'm going to be very happy there," Al said. Then Father Kelly said, "Do you think you'll be as happy as you were in 1978, when you beat Archbishop Wood for the City championship, 27-7?" Well, Al was so amazed at that. He looked over at me with the expression, Where did THAT come from? I hadn't said anything to Father Kelly about that Wood game. Somehow he knew, though . . .
-- Joe Schiavo
Al's classmate at Frankford and great friend since then
(Ted's note: That game was played in a driving rainstorm at Kennedy Stadium, now the site of the Wachovia Center. Al had been 0-8-1 in City Title games as a player, assistant and head coach (the win was only the third for the Pub since 1951), so you can imagine how thrilled he was to finally claim a W. By the way, Joe mentioned that Al, for one of the few times in his career, had been talked into something that day by one of his players. Here's that part: "Frankford was supposed to receive the second-half kickoff. But the weather was so bad and the defense was playing so great, one of the players told Al, 'We should kick off.' Al thought about it and thought about it and came to agree with the kid. Kick off, pin them down there, maybe get another quick touchdown. So, Frankford did kick off again. Wood ran it back for a touchdown [80 yards, John Kafel]. Their only score of the day.")
(Ted's note: This contribution comes from Harry Gutelius, who was taught by Al at Frankford and then taught his son, Skip, and later became the principal at Washington. He now works at Eastern University.)
Al used to think of every detail. He and I would have lunch and he would tell me what he thought would be a key to his next game. Then I would write an article for the News Gleaner. If Al's concern was the other team's defensive line, then I would write how much trouble they would give us, and Al would read that article to the team in the locker room and rant to charge them up. Of course, I never allowed myself to have a byline so our players never knew Al was actually the "brains" behind the article. I bet that I wrote a couple dozen stories for which I had to be anonymous-- they kept wanting to print my name and I kept telling them it wasn't necessary (obviously would have been counter-productive) Al and I used to work on the football programs for each game too as well as Yearbook layouts (I was the sponsor of that for 7 years). Like Ron Howley said in your DN article, Al just outworked everybody. And he thought of every little detail-- from not practicing placekicks at the end of the stadium where Jim Peters grew red, blue, and gold flowers, to allowing the band to have 70 yards of the field for practice (yes, Brian Pastor got 70 and Al took 30) because he wanted spirited music at the games, to having the slats of the locker room benches painted tri-color, to having kids like Tom Stinson and Linda Muller paint all the game balls, etc., etc. When I first became principal of Washington I took Ron Cohen to Frankford to meet with Al and to see all the little things Al did. Ron, obviously, learned well.
I could write for weeks about Al. He was a special part of my life, and when I talked with him last Friday at 9 AM and he said thanks and then good-bye, it was a brief conversation I'll never forget.
-- Harry Gutelius
My prayers go out to the Angelo family. Al was a good friend and mentor. I first meet Al in the late 70's. He was working for the department of recreation at Bridesburg. He was keeping the clock and drawing x's and o's during basketball games. We got to talking about football during the games. That is when I decided to get into coaching. Al I will miss you. Thanks for all of your help over the years. Say hi to Tex.
-- Jim Burner
I have enjoyed reading the comments from Mr. Angelo's friends, players, and former students. He was Frankford's Joe Paterno.
I was fortunate to be his student and run track (didn't make the football team) for him in the early 1980's when he assisted Mr. Howley with the track team. He taught me a lot about working hard and being a gentleman. He will be missed.
Sean P. Stevens (Frankford, Class of 1984)
Al's is a passing of one of the TRULY GREATS. I stand in salute to the man (as well as the coach) Just look at the impact of so many young he has had over the years. They, just like me, have been impacted by greatness. So, what do you do when one of the men who has impacted you dies??? You do just as the soldier did in the movie "GLORY". You pick up the flag and do your best to carry on that greatness because you know that the cause of the greatness has been true, and real, and sincere. Football was only a venue. Al would have been so impactful in any endeavor. The things that have been written are the same things I felt and are samples of the few real things left in this life left to hold on to. I gain strength from Al's passing. Not wanting to waste such an impact of greatness in my life. I kept in touch with Al over the years. I tell him that the championship we won in '78 has stayed with me all these years. Somehow, through good times and bad, I always know that I am a champion. That I have championship stuff in me. He was the curator of that. God bless Al Angelo.
-- Walter K. Parrish
To know Al is to love him as a coach, a mentor, a dear colleague and a
wonderful friend. He touched so many lives and influenced so many of us in
so many ways. He will certainly be missed.
-- Mitch Kline
Frankford High/Northeast High
Mr. Angelo was an excellent role model and a second father to me personally. He was truly one of a kind and I will truly miss him.
The things he did off the football field may be more noteworthy than what he accomplished on the field. In the summer of my junior year Mr. Angelo took six of us seniors-to-be, in his station wagon, on a road trip to visit prospective colleges. He drove us to Delaware University and Glassboro to see the campus and meet with college advisers. He also arranged for Gary Hegh and I to visit Drexel Institute of Technology.
It may not be a big deal nowadays, but my parents never owned a car. It was and is a big deal to me. To think Mr. Angelo who had 4 children of his own, cared about us as much as he did his own is overwhelming. I am truly thankful for all that he did for me. I did go to Drexel and graduated from there in 1978.
-- John Elinski – Class of 73
The coaches and Board of Director’s of Frankford Boys Club, past and present would like to offer their sincerest condolences to the entire Angelo Family. The positive and lasting impressions that Coach Angelo has had on so many individuals who participated with Frankford Boys Club through the years are too numerous to mention. As an organization we were extremely fortunate that so many of the children who participated in our athletic programs were able to continue learning from one of area’s finest teachers…we were fortunate because so many of the young men who Coach Angelo taught the game of football to came back to pass on that knowledge, as coaches and Board members, to several generations of Frankford Boys Club kids! Coach Angelo has always been an integral part of our success, not only on the athletic field but also in helping to develop character and a sense of community in the young men who participated in our programs. It will always be our hope that we were viewed from Coach Angelo’s perspective as an organization who helped to develop well rounded student athletes for Frankford High School.
-- Frankford Boys Club
Growing up as a kid and playing football in Frankford you knew the name Al Angelo. I can still remember my father showing me his yearbook, and telling stories about Al Angelo and the Frankford teams of the early 70’s led by Warren Mays. My next door neighbor (also a Frankford grad) would tell of the football atmosphere at Frankford. Coach Angelo’s legacy never left Frankford, if not for those stories of how a tradition was built I may not have the same respect and passion for football that I have today.
My condolences go out to the Angelo family and the entire Frankford community.
-- Bill Sytsma
Head Football Coach
Neumann- Goretti High School
Side Note: I looked at my father's yearbook recently, and noticed that the student next to him was none other then Chalie Szydlik, HFC at North Catholic……Small World!
Attending Mr. Angelo's viewing on Thursday made the fond memories of everyday interactions with this one-of-a-kind man come rushing back. When playing for him, seeing him at "13 Club" functions or simply in the halls of Frankford, I always knew in the back of my mind, that I was being influenced by someone unlike any other person I will meet again. His spirit, knowledge, demeanor, patience and charisma exuded on every occasion you came across him. (He would even treat a mere kicker like the number one man on the depth chart at times.) Last May, I attended the first annual Frankford Football Alumni Banquet mainly because I knew Coach Angelo would be there, as I'm sure many did. After happily waiting a half hour in line just to greet him, Mr. Angelo looked me in the face, stated my name and said, "Tom, you're teaching and coaching at Pennsauken High School, right?" To this day, I have no idea how he knew that fact. Remarkable. My deepest sympathies to the Angelo family and may the Coach Angelo stories continue to be told for decades to come.
-- Tom Honeyman
Class of '88
In May of 2007, the alumni of the Frankford High School Football Program came together to honor one of its greats, Coach Al Angelo. The reunion, which was attended by nearly 300 former players, cheerleaders, coaches, managers, trainers, and friends of the football program, was originally an idea that started in the heart of Mr. Angelo. (Not many people know that.)
In the late summer of 2003, a rumor swirled about that Mr. Angelo wanted to get all his former players together for a reunion. Unfortunately that never occurred back then. However, after finding out in early 2007 that Mr. Angelo had pancreatic cancer, a few guys wanted to make that reunion come to fruition for the man they held near and dear to their hearts. The result was nothing less than incredible. Mr. Angelo, who described the day as “one of the nicest days of his life,” was presented an award for all his hard work and dedication to the young men and women of Frankford. As always, Mr. Angelo held the crowd’s attention as he gave his speech. He was a man that captured your attention and made you hang on every word he spoke. Mr. Angelo was a humble man. When he was asked about his successes, he talked about his partners. When he was given awards and honored, he talked about the others around him that made it happen. That’s just who he was. Mr. Angelo will always be remembered as a generous, unselfish and honorable man that so many of us looked up to and definitely wanted to play for as an athlete.
hat day in May 2007 will forever be one of the nicest days in my life too. It was a day that I personally got a chance to say thank you to the man I respected so much and who helped mold me into the person I’ve become today. It was a way for all of us to show Mr. Angelo how much he was and always will be loved.
Although he is no longer with us in the physical sense, Mr. Angelo will always remain close to our hearts and will live on in all of us forever. May he rest in peace!
-- Mark Dooling
Reunion pic . . .
L to R -- Jim Reppert, Jim McCreesh, Mark Cornell, Vince Hagan, Al Angelo, Matt McCreesh,
Frank McCreesh, Dave Sanderson, Mark Dooling.
Words could never express what Al Angelo meant to the game of football.
Not only was he a coach, a father, and a teacher, he was also so eloquently
expressed by Row Howley at his funeral, a mensch. When you spoke to Al he
always made you feel so important and the center of the conversation. I'll
never forget when I first started coaching and went to Atlantic City to a
football clinic. I didn't know anyone there and Al came up to me and took
me under his wing. He made me feel so much at home. My family and I will
always remember how he came up from New Jersey and sat with my mother, wife
and daughters, to help me celebrate the breaking of his Public League
record for the most wins. After the game, Al, John and Vince McAneney,
Dapper Walsh, John McBurnie, and many of our friends got together to tell
and swap old football stories. Al, you may be gone but in our hearts you
are never forgotten.
-- Coach Ron Cohen
George Washington High School
Frankford football has always been a part of my life. My mother graduated from FHS and I grew up one block from the stadium. My mother always took us to the Frankford football games. I remember attending football games as a little girl and cheering with the cheerleaders. As a student at Edmunds I remember looking out the third floor windows to watch the football games until school was dismissed and I could get to the game. We all knew who Mr. Angelo was!!
When I entered FHS as a 10th grader Mr. Angelo was my home room teacher. I was so excited! There was always laughter and fun in that classroom. As a majorette in the marching unit I remember how the marching unit would have most of the football field to practice and the football team just a small area. I just thought all marching units were able to practice on the football field.
As wonderful as these high school memories are I cherish the friendship that developed over the years. Mr Angelo attended my surprise 16th birthday party and my wedding. Over the years I visited him and his family and he was always interested in what I was doing. I feel fortunate that my children were able to meet him. Mr. Angelo always engaged my children in conversation and always asked how school was. He enjoyed hearing stories about their high school.
I feel blessed that I can call Mr. Angelo teacher and friend. Thank-you Mrs. Angelo, Arlene, Skip, Alisa and Annette for sharing your husband/father with me and my family. I will be forever grateful.
-- Phyllis Adamczyk Randolph FHS 1978
I never had the honor of playing for coach Angelo but I knew
him well. He would give me nuggets of advice of what he
thought worked on the field. As a young coach I remember
being in awe with every piece of advice. My fondest memory
of coach Angelo is when HE reached out to ME to welcome me
to the head coaches brotherhood of Frankford. He shook my
hand and said a few words that will stay with me forever.
To his family, I am so very sorry for your loss. To coach
Angelo......Thank You Sir. You were and will forever be
Frankford High School.
-- Juan Namnun, baseball coach, FHS
I wanted to send my sincere
condolences to the Angelo family. When I first heard about coach's
passing I felt numb. It took me a few days to process everything because
I must say that Coach Angelo meant the world to me. When I first came to
Frankford back in the year 1984 I had no idea about the rich tradition
that the school had. I was still playing football for my pop-warner
organization. I used to watch that great 1984 championship team and I
marveled at the things Blair Thomas was doing. I played JV for Coach
Folino 1985 and at that TIME I finally understood the rich tradition
that school had. It was now time for me to play for the legendary coach
Angelo but for some reason he retired and I played for Coach John
McAneney, who I feel the same way about!!!!!. We won the championship in
1986 under his guidance, soon after that he left Frankford and we were
left with no coach after that season. Rumors swirled about Coach Angelo
returning to coach the team. It was my senior year and he made his
announcement to come back to coach. I must be honest it made a lot of us
nervous because we heard stories on how hard he worked his teams to mold
into champions so we did not know how to take him. When we first took
the field for two a days, I was in awe at his teaching!! Coach Angelo
was the excellence of execution, he went over things with us over and
over and over again, until we knew it like we were taking a test in
class. I must admit that we had great talent that year, Sean Parrish,
Mark Dooling, Darren Swift, Scott Bonk, and Me Harun Reed. That year we
finished 12-0 and no matter how confident we were Coach Angelo always
made us feel that we still had to work and dedicate ourselves to be
prepared for teams that have it out for us, trying to ruin our
undefeated season. We knew that his health was not so good, so we made
sure you could here a pin drop when he was teaching on the field, he
always use to remind us of such great tradition that Frankford had and
that we were no different from his past championship teams. It’s hard to
write this and hold the tears from pouring out of my eyes because he
meant everything to me and for me to hear about his funeral and not be
able to attend the services because of prior job obligations deeply hurt
me so I figured that I would put these words together for him. To all of
my teammates from that marvelous team I love you guys dearly; to see
Tommy Honeyman and Mark’s comments gave me goose bumps!!! He use to
always tell us that these memories last a lifetime, now at the age of 38
years old, I realize what he was talking about. Just to see him smile in
gym class or to light a fire under us at half time if we were playing
down to the opponents level. Coach Angelo's memory will be forever
imbedded in my mind, heart and soul. I will always remember his strong
glasses that he wore and his signature smile that made everybody feel
comfortable, I will leave you guys with this great football memory. Sean
Parish, one of the greatest running backs to ever play on a Frankford
field, was running unlike himself in the first half of the Turkey game
1987. I have never seen Coach fire into a person like he did to Sean
grabbing the face mask in the locker room the hole nine yards and at
that time I realized that the old Al had appeared just for a moment to
light fire under us. Sean came out in the second half and rushed for
over 130 yards with a spectacular 80 yard run. I just wanted to share
that fond memory that I had of Coach Angelo.
May god bless his family and may his sole rest in peace.
-- Harun Reed 1988 Graduate (1986,1987 champion)