“Coach Joe was a role model to many kids in a few sports that had good homes and families. Parents were thankful that this coach was in their child's corner or sidelines. Then there were the kids where he was the father a few of us were missing. He guided all of us with his positive views and determination by example and the Lord's word.”
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Former Golden High School wrestler Aza Graham knew his former coach, Joe D’Angelo, as more than a former coach.
“You often hear that words are not enough to describe a person, place, or thing. Then there are the people that give each word their definitions and priceless value,” Graham said after hearing that D’Angelo passed away Aug. 10, six weeks shy of the coach’s 90th birthday.
“Coach Joe was a role model to many kids in a few sports that had good homes and families. Parents were thankful that this coach was in their child's corner or sidelines. Then there were the kids where he was the father a few of us were missing. He guided all of us with his positive views and determination by example and the Lord's word," Graham said.
D’Angelo was born Sept. 27, 1933, in Ardmore, Pa., and attended Haverford Senior High School.
D’Angelo attended Penn State University, served three years with the 82nd Airborne Division in the U.S. Army, and coached wrestling, track and cross country for 38 years. He retired as a construction project manager with the Jefferson County R-1 School District.
“Joe D’Angelo made a huge impact on my life as well as all the kids he coached in wrestling and track. He ran a marathon In every state except 3 he did this all the way to the end,” said another of D’Angelo’s wrestlers, Gino Sarti, in a comment posted on Facebook.
“He was a very positive and strong role model in my life,” Graham said. “He was a father to me in his own way, even though I wasn’t his son.”
In addition to his coaching, D’Angelo was a marathon runner. He ran 116 of them, including 10 appearances in the Pikes Peak Marathon. He ran a marathon in 47 of the 50 states.
He and his wife, Lenora, lived in Westcliffe. She died in 2016. The D’Angelos have two children; a son, Joe Jr., and a daughter, Lenora Jr.
A celebration of D’Angelo’s life will be at 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 18, at Our Lady of the Assumption in Westcliffe.
“I already miss you and I will always love you, coach,” Graham said. “From my wife to my kids and while I was in the Navy, you have always answered my calls, spoke the words of the Lord and helped me with every important event. My kids talked about all the moves and advice you shared with them. I promise to strive to be the man you are.”
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