Joseph Moresco, Jr., age 86, of Ithaca, passed away unexpectedly Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at his home on Peachtree Lane. He was born on August 21, 1926 in Wilkes Barre, PA, the eldest son of Joseph and Christina Moresco.
Moresco — who attended high school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., graduating in 1944 — coached at Ithaca from 1956-83, compiling a 141-81-14 record.
His best years were from 1968-72, when the Little Red went 41-1-1, including a 36-game unbeaten streak, undefeated Southern Tier Athletic Conference teams from ’68-72, and a state championship in 1970. ncluding a stint at Canisteo High, Moresco finished his high school coaching career with 155 victories, which ranks 109th all-time in the state.
In 2000, the Ithaca district re-dedicated the football facility at Ithaca High as Moresco Stadium at Bredbenner Field. He is a member of the Section 4 Hall of Fame, the Ithaca High Athletic Hall of Fame and the Mansfield University Hall of Fame.
In addition to his coaching career, Joe taught at Ithaca High for 35 Years and was a member of the Retired Teacher’s Association and the Elks Lodge #636. Joe served with the United States Army during World War II.
A loving and devoted husband and father, Joe is survived by his wife of 64 years, Shirley Laine Moresco. His children, Joseph Thomas Moresco (Roseanne), Nancy Layne Armstrong (Richard), Timothy John Moresco (Donna), Teri Ann Moresco (Philip Pfrang) and Barbara Susan Singleton (Terrance). Grandchildren, Jennifer Lowe (Michael), Kyle Armstrong (Kristen), Joseph Benjamin, Nialya Suarez (Rico), Brian Moresco (Faith), Kevin Armstrong, Kira Moresco-Barbaree (Jeremy), Maxwell Pfrang, Chase Pfrang, Taylor Pfrang. Great-grandchildren, James Kelly, Caitlin Lowe, Hayley Armstrong, Madison Lowe, Olivia Suarez, Amelia Suarez, Sidney Armstrong, Corbin Moresco-Barbaree. Joe is also survived by his brother, Albert Moresco. In addition to his parents, he was also predeceased by his sisters, Marcella, Angela and Luisa.
One of Joe Moresco’s contemporaries and chief rivals on the football field, former Union-Endicott coach Fran Angeline, was also one of Moresco’s great friends in the coaching fraternity. And when the former Ithaca High coach passed away on Tuesday, at age 86, Angeline was profoundly affected. “I can’t say enough about him,” Angeline said Tuesday. “It’s a huge loss to me. We’ve lost a great competitor, a great friend and a great coach. I will miss him personally.” Moresco, who guided the Little Red to 141 victories and a state title in 28 years at the helm, died Tuesday morning at his Ithaca home. He was 86. “I thought the world of him,” Angeline said. “I just can’t think of enough positive adjectives to describe Joe Moresco.” Former players felt the same way about the man who arrived in Ithaca in the mid-1950s and built Ithaca High football into a state powerhouse. He also coached baseball at Ithaca.
“He was very, very tough, very disciplined. But he was fair,” said Rick Wells, who played football and baseball for Moresco in the early 1960s. Wells is now retired and lives in the Gettysburg area. “A lot of people don’t realize how good of a coach he was, not only in football but baseball as well,” Wells said. “We played a game every day, and we would go through situations every day, so come game day, baseball-wise we were well rehearsed. Football-wise, if you didn’t like contact, then you better stay home.”
Current Ithaca College football coach Mike Welch credited Moresco for helping shape his career.“When I became head coach at Ithaca, he was a bit of mentor for me,” Welch said. “He followed me very closely, and he gave me a lot of encouragement.” “He was a constant. He gave me a thumbs up when things were going great and a ‘hang in there’ when things weren’t. “He became a very good friend.”
“He was a great football man,” said Bill Bryant, the former Ithaca athletics director who took over the football program this past fall. “He loved what he did, and he certainly affected the lives of thousands of young men in his time as a football coach. He was really the one that transformed not only football but athletics in general at Ithaca,” Bryant said.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, November 30, 2012 at 10 a.m. at the Immaculate Conception Church, Ithaca, NY. Friends may call Thursday, November 29, 2012 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Bangs Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Joseph Moresco Scholarship Fund, c/o Scott Albanese, Tompkins Trust Co., The Commons, Ithaca, NY 14850. Scott can be reached at 607 274-2052