A career Schenectady City School District teacher and multiple sports athletic coach who rose through the ranks to school district superintendent was remembered Friday as a successful coach and leader, and a “good guy.”
Charles “Chuck” Abba died Friday at his home in Largo, Florida, according to friends and former students. He was 91.
“He was a wonderful man, respected by everyone,” said Bob Pezzano, organizer of the Schenectady schools’ athletic Hall of Fame, who was a student at Linton High School when Abba was an assistant principal.
Abba was superintendent of schools from 1971 to 1981, but many remember him for his many years as a coach. In 1953, he was an assistant football coach, working with linemen, for the Nott Terrace High School football team that went undefeated. The team gave up only six points over a seven-game season and won a championship.
“He really truly was a great coach and teacher and an OKy guy,” recalled Bob Czub of Clifton Park, who was an all-American guard on that team, and later became friends with his former coach, whom he visited several times in Florida.
In addition to football, Abba coached baseball and basketball during his long career.
“He was a special man who was respected by many people,” recalled City Councilman Vincent Riggi, 71, who had Abba as a building principal when he was attending junior high school.
A native of the city where his grandfather helped organize Schenectady’s first Italian-American club, according to the Schenectady Historical Society, Abba played football for Mt. Pleasant High School and then for Union College
In 2000, Abba was inducted into the Schenectady School District Hall of Fame, which recognizes Schenectady graduates who achieve notable careers. He also returned several times to speak at Athletic Hall of Fame banquets, including the first one in 1998.
“I know he was respected. Nobody ever said a bad word about Mr. Abba,” Riggi recalled.
Pezzano said Abba spent his entire student and working career in Schenectady, except for a stint in the Army after World War II.
“As students he inspired us to do exceptional things, to do what’s right and not just what came easy. He was a special person who gave back a great deal to Schenectady,” Pezzano said.
Abba had a son, also known as Chuck, who also went into teaching and coaching and was a successful high school basketball coach.
Funeral arrangements are not yet known.