Cardinal Spellman Mourns Passing of Sal Schiazza

One of the most beloved men in Cardinal Spellman High School history has passed away, leaving a powerful legacy at the school he truly loved.

On Friday, April 15, Sal Schiazza, former athletic director and alumni moderator at the school, passed away at the age of 74 in the St. Joseph’s Nursing Facility in Yonkers after he stopped breathing through a ventilator.

Schiazza, who had been sick for some time, was placed in the nursing facility during the fall of 2010. He retired as athletic director at Cardinal Spellman after the 2004-2005 school year and took over duties as alumni moderator, putting together all alumni events for the school.

A native of New Rochelle, Schiazza graduated from New Rochelle High School, obtained his bachelor’s degree from Boston University, and his master’s degree from Hunter College

Fred Opper, former school dean who took over as athletic director after Schiazza retired, had known him since he was 14-years-old playing baseball for Mt. St. Michael Academy and was hired by Schiazza to coach the boys ‘varsity basketball team at Cardinal Spellman in 1986.

“When I played for Mount, Sal got to know my parents very well, especially my father, and every time we played Spellman, they would just sit there and talk,” Opper said. “This was back during the 1970s when hundreds of people used to go to high school games and the rivalries were big. No matter how many people were in the stands, Sal always saved two seats for my parents. He was just an absolutely wonderful man.”

Schiazza was waked at Lloyd Maxcy Funeral Home in New Rochelle on Monday, April 18 and Tuesday, April 19, his funeral mass was held at the Holy Name of Jesus Church in on Wednesday, April 20 and was buried at Beechwood Cemetery.

Hundreds of Spellman faculty, administration, current students and alumni paid their respects to the man who devoted a large portion of his life to the high school.

He leaves behind his wife Becky, and a legacy of over 40 years of work at Cardinal Spellman High School that began in 1963.

The student fitness center at Cardinal Spellman High School was named the “Sal Schiazza Fitness Center” when it opened in 1998, and Chris Vignali, class of 1997, always remembers Schiazza being there whenever students needed help.

“He was always involved, always approachable, and whatever resources he could provide for us he always did,” Vignali said. “He had a wonderful sense of humor. He would get so mad sometimes that he would yell at you, but then smile right after. Even 10 years after graduation he was still the same great person as he helped us put together our reunion party.”

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