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Matthew A. Mazza Sr., 79, who taught physical education and coached at several schools, died Wednesday (June 11, 2003) in Mount St. Mary's Hospital, Lewiston, after a brief illness.

He was born in Niagara Falls and was a graduate of Trott Vocational High School.

Mazza then attended Canisius College and received a bachelor's degree in physical education from Michigan State University.

He began his career in education in 1948 at Paul Revere High School in Rochester, where he taught physical education and health until 1950. He then took a position with the Niagara Falls School District, teaching physical education in several elementary schools until 1958.

He then began teaching physical education and health at Trott Vocational High School and moved to LaSalle High School in 1963, where he taught physical education and swimming until retiring in 1980.

He wrote a physical education handbook for the elementary grades and put on the first musical physical education show here at 13th Street School, ran the first remedial class for slow learners of physical education and set up the first standards in physical education for LaSalle High School.

He played professional basketball during the late 1940s and early 1950s for the Rochester Royals and Sheboygan Redskins, both of the National Basketball Association, and the Oneida Indians of the Eastern League.

Mazza also coached junior varsity basketball at Paul Revere High School and won two championships. From 1950 to 1952, he coached junior varsity football at LaSalle High School. From 1954 to 1956, he coached freshman basketball at the University of Buffalo.

From 1957 to 1962 he coached varsity basketball at Trott Vocational High School, where his teams won two AA Section VI basketball championships and one AAA Section VI basketball championship.

He also received the 1955 Carlings Award as the city's outstanding athlete, was president of Niagara Falls Little League and was responsible for bringing in the Babe Ruth Baseball League, also serving as league president.

In 1961, he was chosen Top Man of Niagara Falls, an award given to people who held outstanding qualities in sports.

Mazza enjoyed golf and horse racing.

His first wife, Joan Ferro Mazza, died in 1975.

Survivors include his second wife, the former Barbara Ford; a son, Matthew "Butch" Jr. of Williamsville; two daughters, Jessica Freeman of the Town of Niagara and Carol Henschel of Niagara Falls; a brother, Larry Pacifico of Lewiston; five stepchildren; five granddaughters; 10 stepgrandchildren; and two stepgreat-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in St. John de LaSalle Catholic Church, 8469 Buffalo Ave. Burial will be in St. Joseph's Cemetery.

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