Obituary: James Earl Lavery Jr., teacher, Fairfield Prep football coach

James Earl Lavery Jr.

James Earl Lavery Jr.

James Earl Lavery Jr., age 86, of Westerly, RI (formerly of Bridgeport and Trumbull), passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, August 25, 2018. He is survived by his beloved wife of 30 years, Eleanor (Malanowski) Lavery.

Born in Bridgeport on July 19, 1932 to James Earl Lavery, Sr. and Catherine (O’Rourke) Lavery, Earl grew up on Livingston Place, near Beardsley Park. He attended St. Charles Elementary School, and was a 1950 graduate of Fairfield College Preparatory School. He was a member of Fairfield Prep’s first undefeated football team in 1949. He went on to attend the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree. Earl returned to the Prep and began teaching mathematics and coaching at his alma mater in the fall of 1956, while earning his Master’s degree in education from Fairfield University.

Earl (“Duke”) was involved in the football program at Fairfield Prep for 37 years, serving as an assistant to Joe Brosley for nine seasons and head coach for 28 years. He never had a losing season; amassing an overall record of 231-53-8, a state record at the time of his retirement. His teams won three state class LL championships, six CIAC merit awards, seventeen league championships and were undefeated for five seasons. Earl never had to raise his voice to instruct his team. Mutual respect was key to his coaching. He was also affectionately referred to as the “gentle giant.”

Earl was inducted into the Fairfield Prep Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) Hall of Fame in 1991. He received several Coach of the Year awards and was a regional football coach of the year in 1981 for the NHSCA. In 1996, he received the prestigious Gold Key award, and in 2013, was inducted into the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame. Most recently, on June 2, 2017, he was once again honored as one of the first inductees at the inaugural Fairfield Prep Athletics Hall of Fame.

Earl was an inspiration to many in his roles of teacher and coach, but above all his titles, none was more important to him than that of husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. His unconditional love and support will live in the hearts of his family forever.

Earl and Eleanor were longtime members of the Gaelic American Club of Fairfield and also loved to travel. With his lifetime love of Misquamicut, RI, they moved to Westerly, RI in 2006, where they enjoyed their retirement close to the beach and the golf course, as Earl was also an avid golfer. Until recently, he enjoyed working part-time at Wood River Golf in Hopkinton, RI.

In addition to his wife, Earl is also survived by his two devoted children, Kathleen A. Lavery of Bridgeport, CT and James M. Lavery of Jacksonville, FL; his two sisters, Sheila Creatura of Westport, CT and Kathleen Campion of New York City; three grandchildren, Shawna Lavery of Brooklyn, NY, Brandon Lavery and Ian Lavery. of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, an infant great-granddaughter, of Ft. Lauderdale; a stepson, Vincent Malanowski, of Bridgeport, CT, and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by a stepson, Ronald Malanowski, and brother-in-law, Dr. John A. Creatura.

Friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, September 8, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the Fairfield University Egan Chapel (a shuttle will be provided from parking area). Interment will be private at the convenience of the family. Calling hours will be on Friday, September 7, 2018 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Cyril F. Mullins Funeral Home, 399 White Plains Rd., Trumbull.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Fairfield College Preparatory School Athletics Department, 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT 06824.

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