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Jan. 8, 1949 – Nov. 15, 2013

John J. Pilato Sr., a retired teacher, coach and principal, died Friday under Hospice care in his North Buffalo home after a short illness. He was 64.

Born in Buffalo, he was a 1966 graduate of Bishop Timon High School and was the first person in his family to attend college.

He graduated from Niagara County Community College in 1968, earned a bachelor’s degree from Niagara University in 1971 and took graduate classes there. He received his certificate of advanced studies from Cortland State College in 1997.

Mr. Pilato began his career at St. Thomas Aquinas School in Buffalo in 1969, teaching fourth grade and coaching track. In 1971, he went to South Junior High School in Niagara Falls, where he taught social studies and was freshman and junior varsity football coach.

He moved to Central New York in 1977, teaching junior high and high school social studies in the Moravia Central Schools and coaching varsity football. In 1982, his team beat the rival Groton Indians for the first time in 20 years. He also served as social studies department chairman.

In 1983, he joined the faculty in the Cortland city schools, teaching high school social studies and developing the baseball and football programs. He became social studies department chairman in 1995.

He led a championship football team to an undefeated season in 1989, when he was named Onondaga League Football Coach of the Year, and championship baseball teams in 1989 and 1993.

Mr. Pilato was named principal of Cortland Junior-Senior High School in 1998 and received an outstanding service award for developing the high school Alumni Wall of Fame.

He was elected to the Cortlandville Town Council in 1992 and served until 2004. He also was recreation director for the Town of Cortlandville.

After he retired as principal in 2004, he returned to Western New York. He taught multicultural social studies at Canisius College.

Survivors include his wife of 42 years, the former Betty Dauscher; a son, John J. Jr.; and a daughter, Mindy.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in St. Mark Catholic Church, 401 Woodward Ave.