Louis J. Palazzi Sr.

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Louis J. Palazzi Sr., 85, died Sunday in Dunmore Health Care Center. He was preceded in death by his wife, Alcida Foglietta Palazzi.

Born in Groton, Conn., in 1921, son of the late Augusto and Rose Uguccioni Palazzi, he and his family immediately settled in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where he was a resident for most of his life. A 1939 graduate of Dunmore High School, he was an all-scholastic center on the football team, was co-captain, and participated in the 1939 Dream Game. He attended Penn State University for the next four years and was a walk-on for the football team. In his junior year, he became the starting center/linebacker. In his senior year, 1943, he was elected team captain and made the AP All-East team. After graduating from Penn State with a degree in industrial arts, he joined the Army Air Corps to serve his country during World War II. During this time, he played football for the Fourth and Fifth Air Force Bombers, teams used to raise money for the war effort. After the war, he received a master's degree from Penn State in industrial engineering and was drafted in the fifth round by the New York Giants. He was the starting center for the Giants from 1946 to 1948 and ended his playing career with the Boston Yanks in 1949.

From 1950 to 1958, he was an industrial arts teacher and assistant football coach at West Scranton High School. He concurrently aided his father in the ancient family gardening business. In 1959, he became a registered landscape architect in Pennsylvania and assumed control of Palazzi Garden Centers and Landscaping, which he operated until his retirement in 1992.

In 1951, he began his beloved avocation of becoming an NFL umpire, which he did for the next 30 years. During this time, he worked a playoff game for the last 25 years of his tenure, including nine NFL championships, one of which was the 1958 "Greatest Game Ever Played," the Giants/Colts sudden-death championship. He also was an umpire in Super Bowls IV, VII and XI, and was called by the media "the fastest man on the ball." He also was rated as the best foul-weather official in the league. His reputation was known nationwide and he was constantly mentioned and pictured in the media.

He will be fondly remembered for his gridiron achievements and his close relationships with all his NFL friends nationwide and locally whom he dearly loved. He lived a very full and active life, stressing perfection in everything he did, from designing landscapes to using his great communication skills with the NFL players and coaches.

Surviving are three daughters, Rosemary, Santa Fe., N.M.; Cristine, Plano, Texas; and Lisa, Scranton; a son, Louis Jr., Newfoundland; five grandsons, four granddaughters and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was also preceded in death by his younger brother, Bernie Palazzi; and an older brother, Tom Silvano.

The funeral will be Wednesday from the Solfanelli-Fiorillo Funeral Home Inc., 1030 N. Main Ave., with Mass at 9:30 a.m. in Christ the King Church, Dunmore. Interment, St. Catherine's Cemetery, Moscow. Anyone attending the funeral is asked to go directly to church.

Friends may call Tuesday, 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Per Lou's wishes, please make memorial contributions to the Boys and Girls Clubs of NEPA, 609 Ash St., 18510.
Published in Scranton Times on Jan. 8, 2007