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Published: Monday, 2/23/2004

Ex-coach, athletic director had been a standout player

TECUMSEH, Mich. - Joseph Fortunato, who coached several sports on the high school and college level, including football at the University of Toledo and Adrian College, where he was also athletic director, died Saturday at Herrick Memorial Health Center. He was 85.

The exact cause of death was not known, family members said.

Mr. Fortunato was an excellent athlete throughout most of his life and had a love for coaching, his daughter, Terrie Winkler, said.

“He loved to play sports, he loved coaching, and he just loved working with the kids,” she said.

Mr. Fortunato graduated from Rayen High School in Youngstown in 1938. Family members said he holds the record for throwing the longest pass in the high school s history.

He graduated from Kent State University in 1943 and later received a master s degree in administrative education and physical education from the school.

After college, Mr. Fortunato enlisted in the Navy from 1943 to 1946. After his military service, he married the former Betty Jane Cooper on June 22, 1946.

He coached at high school and two universities before

While at the school, his basketball team won the MIAA basketball championship during the 1954-55 season.

After resigning from Adrian College in 1956, Mr. Fortunato took a job with Tecumseh Products Company. He retired in 1984 as director of employee benefits, his daughter said.

In 1997, he returned to athletics as interim athletic director at Tecumseh High School for about six months.

Mr. Fortunato was past president of the Lenawee County Personnel Association, charter member of Tecumseh Kiwanis Club, United Way industrial chairman, on the board of directors of Family Counseling Services, and a member of the Tecumseh American Legion and Tecumseh VFW.

He was inducted into the hall of fame by Upper Iowa University, Kent State University, Adrian College, and by Youngstown Curbstone Coaches Special Award, and the Youngstown Baseball Old Timers.

His wife died on March 4, 2000. Surviving are his daughter, Terrie Winkler; brothers, John and Louis, and two grandchildren.

The body will be in the Purse Funeral Home in Tecumseh after 1 p.m. today. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the First United Methodist Church of Tecumseh.

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