Robert K. Tavernaro

July 30, 1943November 16, 2019
Play Tribute Movie

On November 17th, 2019, we lost a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother, and friend, and coach. Robert K. Tavernaro passed quietly in his sleep at the age of 76 in Mission, Kansas. He is survived by his wife, Mary, his daughter, Lynn Salisbury and (husband Randy), his son Bobby Tavernaro (wife Jennifer), and four granddaughters: Molly and Maggie Salisbury and Olivia and Sully Tavernaro. He is also survived by two brothers, Ron Tavernaro (wife Barbara) and Richard Tavernaro, along with many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Bob was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 30th, 1943, and spent his life in the Kansas City area where he taught and coached for over forty years. He was a thirty year Marine Corp Veteran, small business owner, member of the Catholic diocese of Kansas City, UNICO, and the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association. He attended Central Missouri State University on an athletic scholarship. During this time he met the love of his life, Mary Rast. They were married on January 2, 1965, and were still celebrating their life together fifty plus years later. Bob loved to entertain us all with his wonderful cooking, tall-tales, and jokes (insert eye rolls here)! He was the ‘life of the party’ and usually the last to leave!

He began his teaching and coaching career at Southwest High in KCMO then continued on to Grandview, Bishop Miege, Shawnee Mission Northwest, Blue Valley North, Blue Springs, Raytown, and finally Miege again where he finished his coaching career. During his career, he was a part of teams that won many conference and state titles. He earned four conference ‘coach of the year’ awards, as well as the honor of being inducted into the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Hall of Fame.

His accolades and awards could fill pages, but his greatest legacy lies, not in the awards, memberships, or years of service, but in the hearts of kids: the kids he raised, the kids he taught, and the kids he coached. There were not many places that Coach Tav could go without someone knowing him and thanking him for one life lesson or another.

A great coach never dies because they have given a part of who they are to each athlete. In the words of Vince Lombardi, “I firmly believe that a man’s finest hour is that moment when he has worked his heart out for a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victorious.” Coach Tav definitely lived up to these words and lived his life as an example to those countless students and athletes. He left this world after giving all he had to give; leaving his legacy behind to guide us all.

Services will be held on Wednesday, November 27th at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Fairway with a celebratory funeral mass at 10:30 A.M.

The family invites everyone to join them for a traditional Irish/Italian Celebration (in true ‘Bob’ fashion) at Bishop Miege High School. Food, drinks, and memories will be served after the mass to celebrate a life well lived!


  • Bishop Miege - Robert K. Tavernaro Scholarship Fund


  • Mass of Christian Burial

    Wednesday, November 27, 2019


Robert K. Tavernaro

have a memory or condolence to add?

Jeff Boone

December 4, 2019

I would like to express my sincere expression of sympathy to you Mrs. Tavernaro, Lynn and Bobby.
Coach Tavernaro was a great Coach and an even better Man. He made an impact on my life that I carry with me still today. I remember those horrible summer two a day practices where the true toughness came out. I also saw that caring, loving and concern in our FCA huddles. I will never forget my senior year of high school and our last game. I thanked Coach for all he did, and we embraced each other with a big hug with tears coming down both of our faces. That was a moment I will never forget.
Coach Tavernaro and I hadn’t seen each other for thirty years. Our path crossed seven years ago once again on a football field. When we saw each other, we embraced in a hug. We laughed and talked about the good old days at Grandview High School. To all those student athletes we have lost a great one!!
Even in the corporate world today I still use what was instilled in me… The three D’s Desire… Dedication and Discipline.
You will be missed by many! Thanks for the impact you made!


November 30, 2019

I share Tom Karczewski's memory of the toughest guy I ever knew. He had a tattoo of a flea on his "side" and adopted that name as a livelong moniker. I had some wild times with him from Warrensburg to Hollywood. Semper Fi, my dear friend.

Mary Madden

November 30, 2019

What an awesome man...I’m so sorry, all of you, for your loss. Our dads are hard to let go of - especially when they have left such an impact!

Personally, Coach Tav was a teacher (to me), a well respected and admired coach and fellow athlete (to my dad), and a coach to my boys at Miege.

More than anything, I know he was a man of faith, a husband and a father, a marine protecting us all, and a coach to hundreds of young men. God rest his soul.

William Ennis

November 27, 2019

I had the great pleasure of having coach TAV as my high school track coach at Southwest. His leadership, teaching and overall discipline he instilled to the team and the values he taught not only to team members but to me personally I have remembered thru out not only my life but my professional career. He was one of the great people I have known and will be fondly missed.

Mike Nauman

November 26, 2019

On behalf of Michele and myself, our sincere condolences to the entire Tavernaro family. I have heard many great stories about Bob, and have shared a few drinks with Bob Jr over the past few years to know, Bob Sr was a great influence and will be greatly missed. Our prayers are with the entire family.

Dale Niehus

November 25, 2019

I had the privilege to work on Coach Tav's football staff for seven years. Bob had an amazing mind for the sport and was a pleasure to work with both on the field and in the classroom. A great leader of young men who taught lifetime skills as well as skills in sports - he touched a lot of young men and women. One of my favorite memories is when he started the GI Club at Bishop Miege and our weekly meetings on Thursday nights after football practice. RIP Coach!

Joe Hertel

November 25, 2019

My first teaching/coaching job right out of college was at Bishop Miege High School in KC as an assistant in both football and basketball (80-85). With my being a Western Kansas farm boy, Coach Tav called me "Country Joe" (aka Country Joe and the Fish--rock band). No pun intended, as a young, single man with rural roots and no relatives in the KC area, I was clearly a "fish out of water." Along with Kitty+Tom Colwell and Velma+John Dillon, Coach Tav and Mary took me under their wings and not only mentored me in all things fb/bb, but also taught me the "metropolitan" culture and, more importantly, kept me "adequately fed" with some awesome Italian/Irish/American food.

I have several lasting impressions of Coach Tav. First of all, he was the only person EVER to call me "Coacher," and this was every time I wasn't Country Joe.

Secondly, Coach Tav had more jokes than you could shake a stick at. Seriously, on every new encounter he would have at least 10 new jokes. And the funniest thing about the jokes is how he would chuckle at them himself.

Thirdly, just out of college where I was a three-sport athlete at 6-4, 230 lbs, from the first day I met Tav, I said to myself, "here's a relatively small-in-stature, street-tough Marine, who could easily kick my ass."

Next, Coach Tav was indeed THE most knowledgeable football coach I've ever met with regard to the Wishbone Offense. In fact, I remember vividly when Charlie McBride, Nebraska's defensive coordinator at the time, wanted Tav to come to NU and explain all the nuances of the 'Bone so NU might have a better chance to stop Barry Switzer's Oklahoma Wishbone. Wow! Now that's respect!

Lastly, I won't forget the hospitality shown me by the Tavernaro family in a time when I had/knew no one. Bob was my mentor+friend, Mary made me feel at home, I had Lynn in class, and Bobby and I developed a friendship through his hanging around at fb practice.

No question--"Coacher" will be sorely missed by all.

Tom Karczewski

November 23, 2019

Met Bob in the fall of 1962 at the University of Central Missouri and have been friends ever since. Also served with “Gunner Tav” in the Marine Corps where he was considered by all to be an “Outstanding” Marine. He was the toughest guy I ever knew and I always thought he’d be around forever. He epitomized true friendship and he’ll be missed.
Semper Fi, Gunner.

Dennis Scanlon

November 21, 2019

I had the privilege to have Bob as my coach, drivers ed. teacher, fellow parishioner, fellow Marine, and most importantly friend.
The number of people he had a positive impact upon is countless. Thank you, his family for sharing him with us.
God bless you Bob.
Semper Fidelis,

Tim Burkindine

November 21, 2019

Bob interviewed with me in 1990 and there was no question in my mind I had anew defensive coordinator. During our time together we enjoyed doing things outside of football. We spent a great deal of time having fun teasing Tom Caldwell.
He was always teaching on and off the field. Players and staff gained insights not only into football, how to be successful, but also into life itself. He had a million and one stories as well as Tavisms which I still repeat to this day.
Bob and Tom are no doubt sharing stories but also trying to out whopper one another. It is gray and lonely here without the two of them.