Ray Verba

OBITUARY from The Press, 6-1-05

``Ray Verba, former high school basketball coach, teacher dies

Legendary Cleveland-area high school basketball coach Raymond G. Verba, 69, passed away Saturday, May 28, 2005, at his Avon Lake home from kidney cancer. He was born May 6, 1936 in Cleveland. He lived in the Cleveland area most of his life and raised his family in Brunswick.

Upon retiring from teaching in 1998, he and his wife, Eileen moved to Orlando where they lived for six years before moving back to Ohio (Avon Lake) in January upon learning of his diagnosis. He was receiving treatments at the Cleveland Clinic. While in Orlando, he enjoyed frequent visits to Walt Disney World and working part-time at a golf course and as an usher for various theatre and sporting events including the Citrus Bowl.

He graduated from Cathedral Latin High School in 1954. Verba earned bachelors degree from Kent State University and a master's degree from Ashland University.

Verba began his teaching career at the former Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Cleveland in 1959. He taught history and physical education. He coached football, track and basketball. He was also the school's athletic director. He guided the school to several sectional, district and regional tournament appearances.

From there he went on to teach and coach at Padua Franciscan High School from 1967 to 1982. At Padua, he guided the Bruins to their first District Basketball Championship in school history. In 1970, he was named Cuyahoga County Coach of the Year. He would go on to receive the honor two additional times in his career with Bruins. He retired from coaching basketball at the school in 1974. In 1977, he coached the Bruins golf team to a state runner-up title (Class AAA).

He was awarded the prestigious Golden Deeds Award in 1982, this highest honor in coaching, from the Greater Cleveland Basketball Coaches Association. Other awards include Coach of the Year from the Ohio Basketball Coaches Association in 1970; and Coach of the Year, Northern Ohio Golf Coaches Association, 1967 and 1968.

Verba was editor, writer, circulation and advertising manager for Buckeye Basketball Magazine with a circulation of 7,000 in the early 1980s. He took time off in the mid 1980s before returning to teaching and coaching basketball at the former South Amherst High School, where he guided the school to a regional playoff birth in 1986.

When the school closed, Verba was named head basketball coach at Midview High School in 1986 where he also taught history. In 1997, he stepped down from coaching basketball at the school but continued teaching. Verba served as an assistant basketball coach at Buckeye High School in Medina County for one year. He officially retired from teaching at Midview in 1998.

Verba was responsible for some of Cleveland's premier basketball all-star tournaments including founder of the Coliseum Classic in 1974 and the Cleveland Cage Classic in 1975. In 1976, he founded and directed the first basketball camp for boys and girls, the All-American Top 30 Basketball Camp. Many legendary high school players throughout the state of Ohio have attended the camp over the years.

During his 1996-97 season at Midview, he earned his 300th coaching career victory. In 1999, he was inducted into the Lorain County Boys Basketball Association Hall of Fame. He served as coach for the Lorain County Boys Basketball All-Star Game (Gene Legeza All-Star Classic) in 1993, 1994 and 1995. He was well traveled and enjoyed watching all sports.

Survivors include his wife of 38 years Eileen (nee Spisak); daughters Julie A. Short (Jeff) of Avon; Wendy Telatko (Dan) of Springboro, Ohio; Heidi Lang (Patrick) of Lakewood and a son Scott of Lakewood; granddaughters, Colette and Anica Telatko; and two nieces. He was preceded into death by his parents John and Anna Verba, and sister Elaine Kimball (Joe).

Funeral arrangements are being handled through Jenkins Funeral Chapel in Westlake. Visitation is Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Funeral Mass will held at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Avon Lake at 10 a.m. on Thursday.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 5-30-05, by MIKE SAKAL, Morning Journal Writer

``Area coaching legend Raymond G. Verba dies

Raymond G. Verba of Avon Lake, a legendary former high school boys basketball coach and schoolteacher, has died. He was known for motivating his players, keeping his teams competitive against all odds and pushing his players to do well in their academics.

Verba, who won 303 basketball games during a 26-year coaching career that included Midview and South Amherst high schools, died of kidney cancer at his home in Avon Lake on Saturday. He was 69.

Verba won his 300th game while at Midview during the 1996-97 season, and he was inducted into the Lorain County Boys Basketball Association Hall of Fame in 1999, according to information from his family.

The diagnosis of kidney cancer came two days before Christmas, while he was living in Orlando, Fla., but he moved back to Lorain County in January to be closer to his family, according to his daughter, Julie Short of Avon.

Verba, who had worked part-time at a golf course and as an usher at a movie theater while living in Orlando after his 1998 retirement, was receiving treatments for his illness at the Cleveland Clinic since he and his wife, Eileen, moved back to Ohio, Julie Short said yesterday.

''He was my dad,'' an emotional Julie Short said. ''What else can I say? One of the greatest things about him was that he was such a good motivator of his players and he did so much for the game. He always told his players how important it was to do well in school and to be good people.

''Every metaphor you hear of a coach is my dad,'' Julie Short added. ''He did a lot to advance his players' skills and their dedication to sports. He was such a true coach, and he instilled a lot of good values in his players.''

One of those people was Anthony Stacey of the Midview Middies, just one of Verba's top players who graduated from Midview in 1995 before going on to play basketball at Bowling Green State University. Stacey is now playing in the European League, said Jeff Short, Verba's son-in-law.

Jeff, who met his wife, Julie, while working one of Verba's basketball camps, still marveled at how his father-in-law kept his teams ''in the ballgame'' even though some teams they faced might have had more talent.

''His teams were always competitive,'' said Jeff Short, who is a teacher at Parkside Intermediate School in Westlake and the head baseball coach at Westlake High School. ''His teams always found a way to stay in the game, or even come from behind and win.''

It was known in coaching circles that Verba was not in good health, and his death leaves a hole in high school basketball, a former adversary said late yesterday when he learned of Verba's death.

''It's a sad day for Greater Cleveland basketball,'' said Westlake coach and teacher Art Daniels, who coached basketball for Elyria High School from 1986 to 1993, during a time when Verba coached at Midview.

''He was a great ambassador and gentleman of the game,'' Daniels said. ''He was a great competitor, but he never took things to extremes. He never tried to run up the score on other teams when they were losing bad, and he was very compassionate about people.''

Verba earned his bachelor's degree in education from Kent State University and later earned a master's degree in education from Ashland University, according to information from his family.

A 1954 graduate of Cathedral Latin High School in Cleveland, Verba began his teaching and coaching career at the former Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Cleveland in 1959, where he taught history and physical education until 1967.

After leaving Our Lady of Lourdes, Verba taught and coached at Padua Franciscan High School in Parma from 1967 to 1982, but not all basketball. At Padua, he guided the Bruins to their first district championship in basketball in school history, and in 1970, he was named Cuyahoga County Coach of the Year.

Verba took time off from teaching and coaching in the early 1980s when he opened MVP Sporting Goods in Strongsville, a business that later was moved to Brunswick. During the early 1980s, Verba also was the editor, writer and advertising manager for Buckeye Basketball Magazine.

However, Verba decided to return to coaching in 1982 and took a job at South Amherst High School, where he led the team to a regional playoff berth in 1986 soon before the school closed.

Verba was founder of the Coliseum Classic in 1974 and the Cleveland Cage Classic in 1975. In 1976, he founded and directed the first basketball camp for boys and girls, the All-American Top 30 Basketball Camp, a camp that featured many of the state's top players. He also served as coach for the Lorain County Boys Basketball All-Star Game, the Gene Legeza All-Star Classic in 1993, '94 and '95, Julie Short said.

In 1982, Verba was awarded the Golden Deeds Award, the highest honor in coaching from the Greater Cleveland Basketball Coaches Association. His other awards include Coach of the Year from the Ohio Basketball Coaches Association in 1970; and Coach of the Year, Northern Ohio Golf Coaches Association, in 1967 and '68.

After leaving South Amherst, he accepted a coaching and teaching job at Midview, where he retired in 1998. ''He just couldn't stay away from coaching basketball,'' Julie Short said.

Funeral arrangements are being handled through Jenkins Funeral Chapel in Westlake. Visitation is Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Funeral Mass will be held at St. Joseph Church in Avon Lake at 10 a.m. Thursday.

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