Note: Loren Tobia, news director at WTVH in Syracuse NY, delivered this eulogy at the funeral of Anthony Alfano. Mr. Tobiua is Anthony Alfano’s son in law.
First of all I want to thank all of you for being here today to help celebrate Dad’s life. And this truly is a celebration, for after 94 years of life, there is lots to celebrate and be thankful for.
I think all of you are familiar with Pop’s, or Coach’s accomplishments on the basketball court. After great success as a player, and a member of the first NIT Championship team, he went on to an incredible career as the most successful coach in the history of New Jersey High School basketball, State Championships, a record 51 wins in a row, and a place in the Hall of Fame.
But what some of you may not know is what he was most proud of. It wasn’t the over 350 wins, it wasn’t the 10 South Jersey Championships – it was the kids he helped give a shot to, not on the basketball court, but a shot at a better life. He spoke with pride of the kids he coached who became Doctors or Lawyers or members of Law Enforcement.
To Dad, education was everything. He worked three jobs so his three children could make it through college. And his grandchildren know how interested he was in seeing their report cards when they brought them home from school.
Some called him Tony, others called him Anthony. To some he was Mr. “A,” or coach. To most of us he was Pops. Pops loved his wife, and when she left us there was a huge void in all our lives. You children were something special to him. He always talked with pride about his son and two daughters. He so looked forward to your calls and visits. He appreciated your thoughts, your calls and your prayers. And the loving care you showed him at times when it was needed, and beyond.
He was so proud of you Grandchildren. He talked about each of you to people he met, talked about what you were doing, and what you were aspiring to.
Now for some things that will remind all of us of Pops:
He loved pasta. Even if we took him to the best steakhouse in the world, if they didn’t have pasta on the menu, he didn’t know what to order.
He always had to have money in his pocket, and he always wanted to know how much things cost, whether it was a new shirt, or a new car.
He had a smile that couldn’t be beat. It was in his face, and in his eyes, and when he waved that smile at the ladies, he had them hooked.
Year after year he tried and failed to have a green lawn.
He loved to watch sports on television, not just hoops but boxing, and he boxed along with each punch.
He learned to be a Villanova fan, a Nebraska fan and a Syracuse fan, but if Temple was on television, there was no other team to watch.
He always wanted to work, and even at the age of 94, he wanted to work for the nursing home, so much so that they had him help out with things and gave him a check every month.
He loved to dress up, and to the end loved to wear a tie every day, and he had to have a hat with him. It’s the hat we will always remember.
We were fortunate to have him live with us for almost the last ten years of his life. For our children – his Grandchildren, it was special to grow up with Pops in the house. He gave them wisdom, a kind word, and a lot of love. It’s tough having such a successful athlete watch you T-Ball game, but it worked.
For me he was more than a father-in-law. He was a friend, a helper, a coach, a partner. He helped me with jobs around the house, even if I didn’t want his help. It was a relationship I can’t describe. We loved each other, respected each other, and cared about and for each other.
I miss him already, but know that the guy upstairs is lucky to have him in the house.
Let me close with a poem his daughter Patti found that seems so fitting:
|God saw you getting tired|
|And a cure was not to be|
|So he put his arms around you,|
|And whispered “come to me.”|
|A golden heart stopped beating,|
|Hard working hands at rest.|
|God broke our hearts|
|To prove to to us|
|He only takes the best|
God bless and keep you Pops.