Former Vol great Al Rotella passes away

Al Rotella, a University of Tennessee football letterman in 1942, 1946 and 1947 who achieved success as a high school football coach in Tennessee and New Jersey, died Saturday at his home in Verona, N.J. He was 82 (born March 17, 1920).

Rotella served as head coach at LaFollette and Erwin High Schools in Tennessee, and at Hawthorne, Bloomfield and Verona High Schools in New Jersey, sporting a career coaching record of 211-97-8. He also was an assistant football coach at North Carolina State University under former Vol Beattie Feathers.

He graduated from UT in 1947 with a degree in physical education and social science. In addition to his exploits on the gridiron, he also played baseball. Rotella was a corporal in the U.S. Army during World War II and received a Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in ground combat as well as a Purple Heart.

A native of Paterson, N.J., Rotella had lived in Verona since 1968. He was a graduate of Paterson Central High School, earning varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball and All-State honors in football in 1938 and 1939.

He also was a Lector and Eucharistic Minister of Our Lady of the Lake Church in Verona.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary, and is survived by one sister, Lil Grimaldi, sons Al Jr., Jamie (captain and All-America linebacker on the 1972 Tennessee football team) and Mike (member of the 1973 and 1974 UT football teams), daughters Marianne Rotella and Julia Ligon, and six grandchildren.

A Funeral Mass will be offered Tuesday (Oct. 15) at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Verona. In addition, a Mass will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Knoxville, Father Eric Andrews, CSP, presiding. Burial will be at Highland Memorial Cemetery.

The family will receive friends at Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel, 6200 Kingston Pike, from 6-9 p.m. Thursday. Donations in Rotella's memory may be made to the Endowment Trust of Our Lady of the Lake Church, 32 Lakeside Ave., Verona, NJ 07044, or Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Box E, 1275 York Ave., New York, NY 10021.

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