SOMERVILLE, NJ - Albert “Boomie” Malekoff passed away on Saturday, May 18, at the age of 96. Boomie, as he was known to generations of family, friends and students, was a long-time, respected coach, teacher, administrator and mentor during his decades at Somerville High School. There he was head football coach for 25 years and also had stints as athletic director and coaching baseball, basketball and wrestling
Malekoff was born in Newark in 1923 to parents Joseph and Jennie Malekoff. There he spent his spent his youth and was one of four children; a sister and two brothers. He and the two older brothers dominated Newark high school sports in the 1930s. As an all-city running back for South Side High School, Malekoff went on to star at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark where he played for Joe Kasberger, one of New Jersey’s coaching greats. Malekoff was inducted into the inaugural Newark Hall of Fame with such sports icons as Monte Irvin, Pete Carlesimo and Marty Liquori.
Malekoff’s life was woven into the fabric of New Jersey sports greats. He played basketball for Prof Blood, an innovator and creator of the fast break and full court press; coached against Vince Lombardi; intercepted Joe Paterno passes in college; was featured on the first set of Topps football cards; and once boxed exhibitions with Joe Louis. He also served as class president campaign manager in high school for Ed Koch, future mayor of New York City.
He served honorably in WWII, spending most of the war stationed in England. After the war, Malekoff was recruited by many colleges and universities but chose to stay close to home, enrolling at Rutgers where he was a four-year varsity football standout at a time where starters played both offense and defense. He played with such standouts as Frank Burns, the winningest head coach in Rutgers history. Malekoff also won the Maxwell Award as a top national caliber football player.
After graduation, Malekoff began his long and storied coaching career as an assistant at St. Michael’s. There he coached against St. Cecilia’s head coach Vince Lombardi. The two became friends and Lombardi, when coaching at West Point, would come to New Jersey seeking Malekoff’s assistance recruiting New Jersey players. Joe Paterno also visited Malekoff’s Somerville home in his quest to recruit New Jersey players to Penn State.
After graduating from Rutgers, Malekoff turned down an opportunity with the NY football Giants and joined Somerville High School in 1951 as a physical education and driver education teacher, athletic director and coach where he remained for four decades. After his retirement, he remained active in local sports at the high school and college level. Even after his 90th birthday, Malekoff served on several committees including the Somerville High School Hall of Fame and the Bender Fund, a sports endowment at Rutgers University.
At Somerville, Malekoff coached football and baseball and had stints with wrestling and basketball. He never had a losing football season, leading top ranked Somerset County teams and players who went on to play in college and professionally. He coached at a time when there were fewer high schools in the state and coaches made for a tight-knit group, so many high school coaches had the chance to play, work with and learn from him. Malekoff dedicated his life to educating the youth of New Jersey. He also served as head coach of the first North/South All-Star Football Game with Steeler great Franco Harris helping as an assistant. Over his career, Malekoff was elected to numerous Halls of Fame for his athletic ability and coaching prowess.
Yet, with such a storied life, Malekoff was a humble man. He never mentioned his achievements, only how he could help others achieve their goals and be the best persons possible. To name the endless number of people he impacted over his career would be a Herculean task. Malekoff never spoke ill of anyone and was a friend to all. He will be sorely missed, but will be recalled as someone who left a great legacy for others to aspire to.
Malekoff was a beloved family man. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Jane (Kazmer) Malekoff; his son Michael Malekoff and his wife Carrie; his daughter Juliana Garcia and her husband Arthur; his daughter Beth and her partner Annie; three grandchildren, Rachel, Bonnie and Jennifer; and four great grandchildren.
A private funeral is planned for immediate family. There will be a memorial service for those who would like to join in a celebration of Boomie’s life at Somerville High School, Saturday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to noon.