ISLAND HEIGHTS, NJ - Ben DeFonzo, who was a teacher, coach and co-athletic director at Southern Regional High School for many years passed away on Friday, October 7, 2016. He was born and lived in Jersey Shore, PA until moving to Ocean County in 1964. He resided in Island Heights and in Fort Myers, Florida.
Mr. DeFonzo was inducted into the Southern Regional Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007. He worked as Co-Director of Athletics at Southern Regional High School until his retirement in 1999. He was honored as the Ocean County Athletic Director of the Year in 1997-1998.
Mr. DeFonzo began teaching at Southern in 1964. He was a physical education teacher at Southern primarily working in driver’s education and behind the wheel training for his students.
He served as an assistant wrestling coach for many years. He had many successful teams when he served as the varsity tennis coach.
“We both had houses in Florida near one another and we would spend ime together to socialize,” said Jim Hutchinson, Sr. who is a retired teacher and administrator from Southern Regional. “I look upon Ben as a close friend and hard-working, loyal colleague. He loved the sports program at Southern and helped develop the program into the successful one we still see today.”
He leaves behind many colleagues and students from Southern who respected and loved him.
"Ben will be sorely missed by the Southern Regional community and in particular by the Southern athletic family," said Southern Regional Chief School Administrator Craig Henry.
"Ben started out as a wrestling coach after which he joined athletic director Art Criss as the assistant athletic director. As such, Ben was one of the architects and founding fathers of what we all appreciate now as one of the most dominant athletic programs in the region. Above all else, Ben was a caring person who put others first and always went the extra mile in service to others and Southern's athletes and coaches. Ben's spirit will forever serve as a beacon for our athletes and our programs."
He was a former chairman of the Island Heights planning board, a board member on the Cinnamon Cove Master Board, and an Island Heights Yacht Club member.
He leaves behind his loving wife Elena and their 2 sons, David and Andrew and his wife, Amy. He has 6 grandchildren. He was predeceased by 2 brothers, Joseph and Anthony. He is survived by siblings Frank DeFonzo, Liz Fowler and Caroline Bamonte and many loving in-laws, nieces, nephews and friends.
Mr. DeFonzo was 78 years old when he passed away last Friday.
Here is a link to Mr. DeFonzo's obituary with memorial service information