Catholic School Association to honor six inductees

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The Catholic School Association of Rome’s second Hall of Fame induction to recognize persons influential in local Catholic schools and the community will be Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at Teugega Country Club, 6801 Golf Course Road.

Six inductees, including two posthumously, will be honored at the event which will include hors d’oeuvres, desserts, coffee/tea and a cash bar.

In addition, the Rome Catholic School chorus will provide entertainment along with a guest at the piano.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Jervis Public Library on North Washington Street, at Edible Arrangements on Black River Boulevard, or by contacting Sybil Preski at 315-336-5408 or Marge Maurer at 315-337-9453.

“In selecting the recipients we wanted to include people from every school and era,” said Preski. “Our criteria is a person who gives selflessly to our community, has or had a great impact at the schools, a person who is or did live a life that made a difference not only in Catholic schools but in our community at large.”

Among the six inductees for 2019, as profiled by the association:

Sister Kathleen Eiffe — A member of the first freshman class at the new Rome Catholic High School in 1963, she graduated in 1967 as a member of the first class to complete four years at the school.

A 1971 graduate of the State University at Oswego, she was hired in 1972 to teach European studies at Rome Catholic. She later became a Sister of St. Joseph, and took final vows in 1983.

She has served as a teacher at Catholic Central High School in Troy and Notre Dame High School in Utica. She also was a pastoral associate at Holy Family Parish in Fulton, and was on the Diocesan Religious Education staff for 21 years, including as a regional director in Oswego and New Hartford among her positions.

She currently serves on the Province Leadership Team in Latham.

William “Bill” Fleet — His coaching career began in the 1971-72 season when he started a new hockey program at Rome Catholic School. He coached 26 years as a head varsity hockey coach, including 18 at Rome Catholic High where his teams won four Section III crowns and two state championships.

He also was Rome Catholic Junior High baseball coach for 15 seasons, plus two seasons as varsity baseball coach including a Section III crown and being runner-up in the state’s Class C division.

Fleet also was City of Rome commissioner of parks and recreation for 32 years, and commissioner of public safety for 10 years. In addition, he was project coordinator for renovation of the J.F. Kennedy Civic Arena, and its skating surface is called the Bill Fleet Rink.

He is a member of the Rome Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors and chairman of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, among various community organizations.

Jacqueline M. Izzo —A 1979 Rome Catholic High School graduate, she went on to coach junior varsity girls basketball and then became head coach of the girls varsity basketball team at the school.

Her 17-year basketball coaching career included a won-loss record of 230-86, a Section III championship, and reaching the state final four in 1993. Inducted into the Rome Sports Hall of Fame in 2015, she was the first female coach from Rome Catholic High to be so honored.

Her long association with Rome Catholic High as a student and coach included involvement in several committees offering fundraising assistance to the school. She left coaching to establish her business, Upstate New York Professional Services, Inc., which is in its 23rd year.

In 2015 Izzo was elected as the first female mayor of the Rome, and the first Rome Catholic High graduate to be mayor. Prior to that, she served as chair of the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, president of the Oneida County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and was an Oneida County legislator.

Mark LaGasse — The maintenance director for St. Mary’s/St. Peter’s Church, his involvement with Rome Catholic schools began when he and his wife sent their two children to Transfiguration and later St. Peter’s and Rome Catholic High. He has worked at and/or coordinated such events as the Rome Catholic Festival, Breakfast with Santa, Rome Catholic Craft Fair, and Rome Catholic Basket Affair.

LaGasse also was part of the consolidation team that worked to ensure a smooth transition when St. Peter’s combined with Rome Catholic High to become Rome Catholic School. In addition, he taught Rome Catholic students a Set Design class and was a coach for the 5-6 grade boys basketball team plus the boys and girls soccer team.

The class adviser for the Class of 2012, he gave the commencement speech and had the yearbook dedicated to him.

Rev. Edmund J. Morelle (posthumously) —He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood in 1953. As an assistant, his assignments included St. John’s in Utica, St. Mary’s in Clinton, and Immaculate Conception in Fulton.

During his priestly life, he taught religion at Utica Catholic Academy, ministered to residents of the Oneida County jail, and patients at Broadacres Sanitarium. While at St. Mary’s in Clinton, he ministered to Hamilton College students.

Upon completion of graduate work in education in 1963, he taught physics, geometry, general science and religion at Rome Catholic High School. His weekend assignments included St. Mary’s in Rome, St. Catherine’s in Vernon, and St. Leo’s in Holland Patent. In 1972 he was assigned as pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Verona, serving until his retirement in 2010.

Joseph J. Simons (posthumously) — A 1956 graduate of St. Aloysius Academy in Rome where he was salutatorian, Simons received a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1960 and a master’s degree in systems management in 1974.

In 1960 he joined the Rome Laboratory at Griffiss Air Force Base as a physicist and served there for over 34 years. His positions included being chief of the Wide Area Radar Surveillance Division, Directorate of Surveillance and Photonics. His division was responsible for research in advanced airborne and ground tactical surveillance radars, space-based and over-the-horizon radars, and innovative wide-area surveillance systems to detect and identify advanced air vehicles.

He was a communicant, lector, Eucharistic Minister, secretary of Parish Council, and former trustee of St. Mary’s/St. Peter’s Church. He was very involved in the conversion of the church basement to the Msgr. Francis Culkin Hall.

The Catholic School Association said money raised at the Hall of Fame induction event is used to enhance programming at Rome Catholic School.

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