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1924 - 2017
CANNAVA, Anthony L. "Al" Decorated WWII Veteran, O'Melia Award Recipient, NFL Player, B.C. Hall of Famer Anthony L. "Al" Cannava, of Medford passed away on Sunday September 24, 2017. He was 93. Al was born in Boston on May 24, 1924 to Salvatore and Rita Cannava. They lived in Medford where he grew up with his five siblings. After graduation from Medford High, with the recognition "All Star Running Back", Al attended the University of Notre Dame on a full scholarship. During World War II he served in the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Halligan. On March 26, 1945 the vessel was attacked, killing one hundred and sixty two crewmen. Al drifted in the Pacific off the coast of Okinawa for several days before he was rescued. He was decorated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his service. When he returned to the states, he continued his education and athletic career at Boston College where he gained more attention for his speed and accuracy as a half back and defensive back. In the 1949 game with rival Holy Cross, Al gained 229 rushing yards, helping to secure the Eagles triumph. At B.C. fans came to call him "crazy legs", an affectionate term that stuck with him. He was the starting running back for the North Squad in the North-South All Star game of 1949. He was the recipient of the O'Melia Award as Outstanding Player for his performance in the contest with Holy Cross. The New England Football Writers also voted him Outstanding Player in the region. In 1984 Boston College inducted him into the Boston College's Varsity Athletic Hall of Fame for his "dynamic varsity career as the best running back of the 1940's". After graduation in 1950, he was recruited by the Green Bay Packers where he played Half Back and Defensive Back. He stepped away from football, choosing to return to Medford and his wife Juliette "Dolly" Corrado. He started a family and went into a local dry cleaning business with his brothers. He also continued his love of football by serving as Backfield Coach and Defensive Coach at Somerville High School in the early 50s. The Boston Herald printed photos of the two plaques he was awarded from Somerville. After retiring from the family business, he served as a State Auditor in the Massachusetts Retirement System. He remained active in civic life and held the role of Liquor Commissioner in Medford. He was proud of his volunteer participation in fraternal organizations such as President of Kiwanis. For years he was a local legend who could be heard giving radio interviews at half time on Thanksgiving Day broadcasts. Al was the beloved husband of the late Juliette M. "Dolly" (Corrado) Cannava. The devoted father of Paul Cannava and his wife Jean of AZ, Christine Cannava and Richard Cannava both of Medford. Loving grandfather of Marisa, Nicole, Sharon, Brian, Patrick, Jenna and Jordan. Loving great-grandfather of Devin, Emma, Lily, Mila, Maya, Matteo, Alivia and Isabella. Dear brother of John Cannava of Winchester, Connie Pasqualetto of CA, and the late Santo "Sunny" and Salvatore Cannava and Prudence Genova. Al will be remembered as a local celebrity and loving family man. The Cannava family wishes to thank Al's caregivers at Spaulding Hospital, Cambridge; Care Dimensions/Hospice, Danvers; Partners Health Care at Home; Greater Medford Visiting Nurses Association; Metropolitan Home Health Services; Visiting Angels, and all the doctors and nurses at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston and Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, Burlington. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Patrick Church, 71 Central St., Stoneham, Thursday, October 5th at 10 AM. Services will conclude with burial at Oak Grove Cemetery, Medford. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent in Al's name to the BC Veterans Memorial Fund, c/o Boston College Development Office, Cadigan Alumni Center, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 or to the Boston College Flynn Fund, c/o Boston College Athletic Dept., Cadigan Alumni Center, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. To leave a message of condolence please visit www.dellorusso.net Dello Russo Family Funeral Homes Medford-Woburn-Wilmington

View the online memorial for Anthony L. "Al" CANNAVA
Published in The Boston Globe on Oct. 4, 2017
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