Joseph Patrick Sassano, Jr.March 20, 1932 ~ September 19, 2017 (age 85)
Joseph Patrick Sassano Jr. passed away in his home peacefully surrounded by family on Tuesday morning, September 19, 2017. He was born March 20, 1932, in Brooklyn New York to Aida and Joseph Sassano. He married Carol (Chura) on November 26, 1960 in Chicago and they have four children; Joseph III (Maureen), David (Carolyn), Jennifer (Stephen) D’Ambrosia, and Jessica (Dennis) Payne. He has 8 grandchildren; Corinne (Heather Hahn; their 2 foster daughters) and Colby Sassano; Christian and Isabelle Sassano; Allison D’Ambrosia; Nathan (Dr. Cynthia), Alex, and Seth Payne.
Joe was involved in numerous community organizations over his 49 years as a resident of South Bend, including the Chamber of Commerce, Press Club, Notre Dame Club of St. Joe Valley where he served as President, and the Italian-American Heritage Society of Notre Dame/Michiana where he was awarded their Columbus Award for service to community along with serving as President. Joe is also a member of Notre Dame’s Monogram Club.
Joe worked at the University of Notre Dame, involved in the Joyce Center facility administration and management from its opening in 1968 until his retirement in 2003. He helped coordinate a long list of events, ranging from presidential visits to performances by entertainers such as Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, and the Harlem Globetrotters, to name a few. Joe was also instrumental in the development of Notre Dame’s summer sports camps back in the early 1970’s.
He attended Notre Dame, earning a bachelor's degree in 1955 and a master's in guidance and counseling in 1959. After graduation Joe served 3 years in the United States Marine Corps, as first lieutenant. His duties included training drill sergeants, as well as coaching the Quantico football team with legendary coach Vince Dooley.
His passion for coaching led him to Chicago in 1959, where he spent nine years as head football coach at Archbishop Weber High School. His teams were among the winningest in the school’s history, including two all-city championships, and a game against Lane Tech in Soldier Field in front of 83,000 fans. In 1972 he was inducted into the Chicago Catholic League Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame. At the invitation of his mentor Moose Krause, he left coaching to take the job at the then named Athletic and Convocation Center, but he remained forever Coach Sassano. He was never far away from the field. Whether as a sideline reporter for Notre Dame Football on Mutual Radio, intermural football coach for Stanford-Keenan Hall, game day press box spotter, assistant coach for his grandkids, constant father-coach, and trusted advisor for his head coach son Joe, he was a living manifestation of the essence of coaching.
Joe was preceded in death by his older brother Salvatore.
Arrangements are being handled by Kaniewski Funeral Home, 3545 North Bendix Drive. Visitation will be Sunday September 24th from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Funeral Home. Monday morning visitation at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame from 8:30 -9:15. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 9:30 at the Basillica. Burial will follow at Cedar Grove Cemetery, Notre Dame. Memorial contributions may be made to the College Scholarship Fund of the Italian-American Heritage Society of Notre Dame/Michiana, P.O. Box 1201, South Bend, IN 46624. To send online condolences, please visit kaniewski.com