on March 7, 2014 - 5:03 PM
Jan. 3, 1926 – March 5, 2014
Robert A. Marafino, , who coached Kenmore East High School baseball teams to 25 straight winning seasons, died Wednesday in Buffalo General Medical Center. The Town of Tonawanda resident was 88.
Born in Buffalo, he began playing baseball in Front Park for Holy Angels Elementary School and in The Buffalo News Midget Leagues.
After his family moved to the Town of Tonawanda, he attended Kenmore High School, which had no baseball program. He played on championship municipal league and American Legion league teams instead.
He was scheduled to start training with the Olean Oilers of the PONY League but enlisted instead in the Army Air Forces during World War II. Returning from service, he earned a degree from the University of Buffalo and played on UB’s first baseball team in 1949.
After three seasons at UB, he joined the Simon Pure team as a catcher and helped win Class AA championships in 1952, 1953 and 1954. He became manager of the team in 1955 and led it to four Class AA titles from 1956 to 1959.
Mr. Marafino, who had become a physical education teacher at Thomas Edison Elementary School in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District, left the Simons after nine seasons to become the first varsity baseball coach at Kenmore East High School.
In 25 years, his teams won seven Niagara Frontier League titles and six Section VI championships.
He also coached Kenmore East varsity basketball in the 1960s. He retired in 1990.
He served as a baseball and softball umpire with the Ken-Ton and Grand Island umpires associations and was active for 26 years as a high school basketball official, for 37 years as an official for high school and Division 3 college football and for eight years as a high school soccer official.
He was a member of the Kenmore East Athletic Hall of Fame, the Western New York Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame and the Western New York Board 53 Basketball Officials Hall of Fame.
Survivors include his wife of 52 years, the former Judith Armstrong; a son, John; five daughters, Mary Castiglia, Anne Hoar, Cathy Hyzy, Beth O’Donnell and Julie Buda; and nine grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday in St. Christopher Catholic Church, 2600 Niagara Falls Blvd., Town of Tonawanda.