Mr. De/Coach/"Little Al"/"Alphonse" was referred to by many names because he was many things to many people. For our Fontana household, Mr. DeFilippo was as important to us as anyone in the family. It started with him being my Cross-Country Coach & making a runner out of a skinny boy. Coach De was the task master & ran us hard in practices. --Those "hill climbs"! Freshman year I broke the freshman home course record. Sophomore year I earned my Varsity Letter as the Team's 5th man behind those great distance men ahead of me. Junior year, Ken Finlay started nipping away until he led the way to the finish line ahead of me through senior year. When Coach De named me Co-Captain with Ken Finlay for senior year, he confessed to me that he never thought I would become the runner I was. But Coach De gave me the endurance & confidence that have served me all the years of my life in all that I have accomplished. Then came Track with Mr. Lanzalotto as Head Coach & Mr. De as Assistant Coach & his impact was magnified. Though I was not in his History class, I became a social studies teacher & principal. But many a Saturday morning workout for cross-country began with a bleary eyed Mr. De, who was up late Friday night reading, telling us about the book he was reading.
I read with great interest about Mr. De's life in his obituary on the Funeral Home website. I thought I knew all about him but never did he talk about his WWII service in the South Pacific to us. And it was truly a joy to see all the photos here documenting Mr. De's retirement years in Florida.
We must celebrate Mr. DeFilippo's life short in stature who lived the life of a giant to us all.