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John M. Taylor Funeral Home

147 Duke OF Gloucester ST, Annapolis, MD

OBITUARY

Joseph Suriano

October 28, 1947February 5, 2020

Please RSVP using the following link: https://forms.gle/j8xEJu4w35w7EgWh9

Please contact family at (443) 254-4293 or mjsuriano@outlook.com PLEASE RVSP BY WEDNESDAY 12 FEB 2020. Space is limited at the reception to the first 140 People.

Please see story in Navy Sports: https://navysports.com/news/2020/2/7/mens-swimming-diving-former-navy-diving-coach-joe-suriano-passes-away.aspx

Former Navy Diving Coach Joe Suriano Passes Away

ANNAPOLIS, Md. –– Joe Suriano, who served as the Navy diving coach and a physical education instructor at the USNA for 35 years, passed away this week in Annapolis.

A celebration of his life will be held Sat., Feb. 15, from 4-6 p.m. in Lejeune Hall with a reception to follow. Those interested in attending are asked to register in advance via this LINK.

The Suriano family is requesting that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Joe's name to the Navy men's swimming, women's swimming or diving programs.

"During my tenure as Athletic Director," said Chet Gladchuk, who has been in his position since 2001, "Joe was as fine a coach, educator, person, and leader we have had within the physical mission. He embraced and inspired everyone with his wonderful personality and devotion to the development and leadership of our midshipmen. He was immeasurably respected by all. When he spoke, it was always insightful and influential in a very constructive and meaningful way. I enjoyed his sense of humor and always appreciated his determination to put forth our absolute best effort in every competition. Joe was a winner who always portrayed and personified the will to win. He was a benchmark for achievement in the sport and one of the greatest ever at Navy. We are devastated by the loss of this wonderful man."

Long respected as one of the top diving coaches in the country, Suriano saw 12 of his divers qualify for 22 NCAA Division I Championship meets and earn 15 All-America accolades in his tenure. Bill McCormick '86 and Nate Smith '96 each advanced to the NCAA Championship in all four of their respective seasons. Prior to the Navy women's program joining the Division I ranks in the 1991-92 season, his divers earned 15 NCAA Division II All-America certificates. This list of honorees includes Stacia Johnson '92, who won the 1991 NCAA Division II title on the three-meter board.

"I had the opportunity to train under Joe as a Midshipman at the Naval Academy from 1982 to 1986," said McCormick. "With the new LeJeune Hall training facility and a developing program, we worked hard to put Navy on the map as a premiere swimming and diving program. Joe's leadership and unmatched work ethic were the key. Joe's mantra was, 'be enthusiastic, be on time, and give 100%.' Joe always gave 100% of himself to develop the growing brood of student athletes and keep us on the path to success. His persistent positive attitude and subtle corrections to the perfection minded divers gave us the winning edge. I must have heard 'good dive' half a million times. Our frequent bus trips to away swim meets were a welcome escape from Midshipman life in Bancroft Hall, which also gave Joe and swimming coaches Lee Laurence and John Havlik a chance to drop their guard and hang out with the boys. Joe occasionally had us over to his house on the weekends and I enjoyed spending time with Patty and Michael. Joe often took us sailing on his orange Hobie 16 with his ever present cooler of libations in a specially designed rack. Our swimming background paid off one day when the summer wind died and we had to paddle home like a surfer laying on hulls. Joe made a profound impression on a me as a skinny, young diver from Wisconsin. He gave me the opportunity to prove myself and made the difficult times seem fun. It was a blessing to have him in my life and I'm a better man to have known him. Stay strong Patty, Michael and Doug; you are in my prayers."

Additionally, his divers totaled 27 Patriot League, 17 Eastern Swimming League and eight Colonial Athletic Association individual event titles, as well as 14 Patriot League Diver-of-the-Meet honors. This includes the 2007 and '08 Patriot League Championship meets when his divers combined to sweep all four boards both years.

Suriano himself was recognized as the Patriot League Coach of the Year four times and as the NCAA Division II Coach of the Year in 1991.

"Joe Suriano's arrival was one of the best things to happen to Navy swimming and diving," said Lee Lawrence who, as Navy's swimming coach, shared the pool deck with Suriano for a quarter of a century. "He helped bring new respect on a national level to the program with the performances of his divers at major meets. Away from competition, we shared a countless number of bus rides and dinners together during which each one of us gave the other as much grief as possible. I'm really speechless on his passing."

"Joe Suriano was and always will be a Navy coaching legend," said current Navy men's swimming head coach Bill Roberts. "He was able to achieve so much together with his athletes during his time as our diving coach. He built the Navy diving camp into an incredible experience for so many young divers, which was highlighted by a very spirited and well choreographed show at the end of each camp week. He also spent hours on deck teaching and working with Midshipmen as a tenured professor in the physical education department. He had an incredible impact on many people during his decades in Annapolis.

"Personally for me, as a young assistant who arrived here in 1997 through our final days on deck together coaching and teaching, Joe, along with his wife Patty, went above and beyond with their support for myself and my family. I cannot put into words how saddened we are and how much we will miss him."

"We at the Naval Academy and myself personally are saddened by the passing of Joe," said Navy women's swimming head coach John Morrison. "As one of the most respected diving coaches in the country, Joe set the standard for those in our program to always strive for excellence beyond what they thought possible. More importantly, he mentored all of his student-athletes and the coaches he worked with to be great human beings. His charismatic teaching and coaching style brought levity to an often stressful environment. Our community will miss Joe daily, but our memories of his kindheartedness and passion to serve others will never be forgotten."

On the national and international levels, Suriano was named an International Olympic Committee diving expert in 1985 and conducted a 21-day clinic for 30 diving coaches in New Delhi, India. In 1994, he was named an official and an assistant diving coach for U.S. Diving at the Dive Canada International Championships. He served as an official in 1995 at the World University Games in Fukouka, Japan, and at the World Military Games in Rome, Italy, later that year. He also served as a diving coach at two U.S. Diving National Training Camps and was named to the 1995-96 U.S. Diving national coaching staff. Suriano directed the American diving team at the 1999 World Military Games in Zagreb, Croatia, then completed a term as the chairman of the NCAA Swimming and Diving Rules Sub-Committee in the fall of 2001.

"Joe was very much respected in the swimming and diving community," said current Navy diving coach Rich MacDonald. "I personally had so much respect for him as a coach and, more importantly, for the man he was. Taking over his program that he built over the years was a tremendous honor and something I keep on a grand pedestal of accomplishments in my career. At just about every competition I have gone to since taking over here at Navy, the opposing coaches would ask how Joe doing in retirement. It was always followed by stories, love and laughter. I know those stories will live on for many, many years, as will the love and laughter. I know that Patty, Michael, Doug and the rest of Joe's family are devastated, as we all are. Our hearts and prayers go out to them. RIP Joe."

Suriano arrived at Navy in the summer of 1978 after previous stops as the head coach at Eastern Michigan (1971-72) and Vanderbilt (1972-78). He earned a bachelor's degree from Michigan in 1970 and a master's degree from Eastern Michigan in 1978.

"The U.S. Naval Academy is a powerful school that has the ability to open many doors," said Suriano in announcing his retirement in May 2013. "It has provided me with the opportunity and pleasure of working with past and present leaders and heroes of our military. I remember working with midshipmen who are now admirals. Winning in diving has always been very important. But it is how you go about striving for and attaining those wins -- maintaining respect for both our sport and our opponents while remembering we are always representing the Navy Academy -- that is truly important to all of us at Navy. That is one of the many reasons why I have been so proud to have coached here."

Services

  • Celebration of Life Saturday, February 15, 2020
  • Reception Saturday, February 15, 2020

Memories

Joseph Suriano

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Nikki Marasco

February 16, 2020

My high school and early college years were shaped by Joe’s mentoring. His ever present encouragement and his relationship with my family through many years at Navy Diving Camp resulted in my decision to attend the Naval Academy, where he surely lost many hours of sleep and grew a few extra gray hairs worrying about me and my wild behavior. He will always be a special person in my life, and will always have had a huge part in who I have become as an athlete and a person. Rest easy, Coach. You are loved.

Darcy Thompson

February 13, 2020

It has been over a week and it still hasn't really set in that Joe is gone! Joe played an integral part in my life. I was a senior in HS and not really sure where I was headed to college. I just knew I would go somewhere to dive. At a meet in Texas, I met up with my HS diving friend Nate Smith and went to lunch with him and Joe. After that I was rapidly filling out applications, going to physicals and interviews so I could go dive at the Naval Academy. That one lunch changed my entire life!
I dove for Joe from 1993-1997 at USNA and in the World Military Games in 1999. He helped pull me off a destroyer and miss 2 months of deployment for the opportunity to dive with some of the best in the world. Joe pulled so many strings for me I don't think I could ever thank him enough.
We had so many fun days on the pool deck, but there were so many hard ones too! Trying to balance life at the Academy was hard. Joe understood that. Lejeune Hall was my escape! We would go there and laugh. We would listen to Joe narrate his thoughts on the world, politics and how to live life! He had so many one liners I can't seem to remember them all. I always thought we should compile them into a book called "The lessons of life according to Joe".
Joe pulling me to USNA has shaped my life. I met my husband there. We have traveled the world. My kids all love Navy sports and my son now wants to go there too! Funny how one lunch at the age of 17 shaped my entire life!
He will be missed! I regret not reaching out to Joe a few weeks ago. My dad and I were talking about our Navy Diving shirts with the feet going into the water. My dad was saying how he needed some new shirts. I told him I would track Joe down and find out what happened to the "feet" T-shirts. Unfortunately life pulled me in too many directions and that opportunity has passed. I am sorry Joe. You were thought of often! You changed so many lives! Rest In Peace! I love you Joe.

David J. Adams

February 12, 2020

I was shocked and greatly saddened to hear of the loss of my good friend and great classmate, Joe. I didn't meet Joe until the 7th grade. We quickly became fast friends, however, and shared many activities. Both of us were in band together, me on trumpet, him on drums, then later also trumpet. I had been playing trumpet for many years, but damned if he didn't become as good as me in just weeks! We both participated in Track as pole vaulters - he made me look pathetic. We were on swim teams together throughout Jr. high and high school - I was the better swimmer, but he was our STAR; a Diver Extraordinaire! He was a better dancer, I was jealous. He possessed a great sense of humor and a tremendously outgoing nature! A competitor, a friend, a companion; I will miss him greatly. God Bless and Rest in Peace, Joe!

Jack Groendal

February 12, 2020

Joe and I were lifeguards in 1966-67. He would put on incredible diving exhibitions at the end of our days at Seashore Pool in Dearborn Michigan. We've stayed in touch and visited with him and Patty on our recent trips to D.C. Enjoyed every minute of our Alexandria lunches. The world has lost a great man!

Joseph Heil

February 10, 2020

I swam at USNA from 1976 - 1980, and was Co-Captain First Class year. Coach Suriano arrived while I was there as a true Diving Coach and transformed our divers into strong point-earners and began recruiting superior diving talent that was on par with any of the top teams in the nation for many, many years to come. Joe will be sorely missed and fondly remembered as a friend and World-Class Coach. My deepest sympathies are with Patty and the Suriano family.

John Del Rosso

February 7, 2020

I grew up with Joey. We were like brothers. We grew apart as we became adults but we were bonded by our youth. I have fond memories of his parents and his dog rusty (and some memories left just between him & I). This was a special time in our lives. He was a serious competitor in diving and humorous in life.. A great friend I will never forget. RIP Brother.

Susan Sipos-Atkinson

February 6, 2020

Joe and I were classmates in elementary and high school. He was such a wonderful friend
He a great sense of humor and he loved to dance and was good. I saw him at our 50th class reunion. Was great to catch up on old times.
RIP Joe

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY