Penn-Trafford teacher, coach, inspired young athletes
Pat Cortazzo flipped a coin with another teacher to decide who would coach the Trafford High School football team and who would coach basketball.
Cortazzo, who loved football and was a quarterback at Geneva College, “lost” and accepted the basketball position, according to his son, Sam. It turned out to be a win for the many varsity players he guided during 35 years as a teacher and coach.
“He read books, went to a seminar and became a pretty good basketball coach,” Sam said. “He was always willing to help anybody.”
Patrick Frank Cortazzo, 87, of Penn Township died Tuesday, May 7, 2019, at his home. Born Nov. 12, 1931, in Wilmerding, he was a son of the late Frank and Lena (Ingagliato) Cortazzo.
Mr. Cortazzo served as a military police officer in the Army and was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., during the Korean War. After leaving the service, he worked at a steel mill in Pitcairn before an uncle persuaded him to pursue a college education. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Geneva College in 1957.
Mr. Cortazzo was retired from teaching at the Penn-Joint, Trafford and Penn-Trafford high schools, where he coached basketball and football.
“The players all loved him,” said Sam Cortazzo, who played football under his father’s coaching at Penn-Trafford. “He was hard-nosed, but he was fair and he knew the game.”
Off the field and court, Mr. Cortazzo taught driver’s education, social studies and civics courses. According to his son, school administrators often turned to his father to help with discipline when students became unruly.
“He helped to keep the peace at school,” Sam said. “If he heard something going on, if there was a fight going on, he was there.”
Mr. Cortazzo never lost his love for working with young athletes.
“He still remembers the kids from when he helped me coach 10 years ago,” said his grandson, Matt Cortazzo, who coached boys basketball at Penn Middle School. “He knew everybody’s name, where they lived, how tall they were, everything about everybody.”
Mr. Cortazzo loved to golf and belonged to two Manor Valley golf leagues.
He was a member of St. Barbara Church in Harrison City and Trafford American Legion Post 331. He was inducted into the East Borough Hall of Fame Class of 2008.
Mr. Cortazzo is survived by his wife of 65 years, Lois; four children, Barbara Cortazzo of Ebensburg, Patricia (Kent) Silveria of Doylestown, Samuel (Dayna) Cortazzo of Irwin and Martin (Stacy) Cortazzo of Cincinnati; four grandchildren; and three step-grandchildren.
Family and friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in the John M. Dobrinick Funeral Home, 702 Seventh St. (Route 130), Trafford. A funeral liturgy will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in the funeral home.
Entombment will follow with military honors in Penn-Lincoln Memorial Park, North Huntingdon.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .