By CHRIS LARICK
Louis Pavolino, who will be inducted into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation on Apr. 3 as an official and contributor, always had a great love for sports. The only thing that kept him from participating in athletics in high school was his thin physique.
So Louis did the next best thing, joining the marching band so he could root the Ashtabula teams on, playing the trumpet and French horn at Ashtabula High School until his graduation in 1941.
"His family was all musically inclined," said Pavolino's widow, Jean, of her husband who died in 2012 at the age of 88. "He joined his brother Cosmos' band called 'The Brigadiers' and continued to perform after he graduated."
Pavolino's selection to the ACBF Hall of Fame is a tribute to his work as a basketball and football official, a job he held for 22 years, from 1947-1969, when he was forced to give it up after open-heart surgery.
The son of Vincenzo "James" and Rosolia (Adames) Pavolino, Louis grew up with siblings Mary, Cosmos and Vincent. World War II was underway when he graduated from Ashtabula High School and he was inducted into the U.S. Army in February, 1943. After basic training, he was assigned to the 633rd Quartermaster Laundry Division, arriving in England in January, 1944. Pavolino traveled through France, Holland (where he was wounded on Dec. 1, 1944, and received a Purple Heart) and Belgium. He was at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, when the war ended. By then he had been promoted to Tech 4 Sergeant.
Honorably discharged, Pavolino arrived back in the United States on Jan. 20, 1946. He was awarded a European Theater of Operations Certificate of Operations Certificate of Merit Citation in recognition of conspicuously meritorious and outstanding performance of military duty. In addition, he received a Good Conduct medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign medal with four bronze stars and World War II victory medal.
On May 17, 1947, Pavolino married Paulyne M. Zappa. The marriage lasted 51 years, until she died in July, 1998. The couple had one daughter, Jaime Lou, who died in 1985.
"She was the apple of his eye," Jean Pavolino said of Jaime's relationship with her father. Jaime married Ron Donatone in 1976 and they had two daughters, Julie and Lauren. Julie has three children: Isabella, Helaina and Addison Behm. Lauren's children are Giada, Enzo and Gino Fioritto.
Louis married Jean Matthews-McCollum on Sept. 9, 2006 after a seven-year courtship.
"We enjoyed six glorious years together prior to his departure on October 14, 2012," Jean said. "He embraced my two sons, Matthew and Corey, as his own, calling them 'My boys.' Matthew and Corey reciprocated by lovingly and affectionately calling him 'Dad.' He loved participating and sharing in every area of their lives. Lou was especially honored when Corey selected him to be the recipient of his first salute as a commissioned officer to a veteran in June of 1999 at the graduating ceremonies of the ROTC at Ohio State University."
Pavolino worked for Reliance Electric as a foreman until his retirement in 1982 at the age of 59 after 36 years on the job.
"Lou was a member of the Reliance basketball team," Jean Pavolino said. "He loved sports, whether participating in them or watching them on TV."
Pavolino's best sport was golf.
"He was an avid golfer, a passion that started at the age of 13," Jean said. "He achieved the status of club champion eight times at the former Ashtabula Country Club. He loved to help others improve their game. People called him 'The Machine' because of his control and accuracy hitting the ball down the center of the fairway. Lou even found a way to play golf in England during the war. He found a club and some balls, then found a course to play on.
"Lou also loved officiating both basketball and football."
Bowling was another sport Pavolino was adept at.
But the aspect of life that meant most to him was his family.
"His family meant everything to him," Jean said. "The only thing that exceeded that was his love for God and his Lord Jesus. He was a devout Catholic who served as an altar boy and usher and was always active in the church."
Jean still lives in Ashtabula. Of her sons, Matthew is a software engineer who lives in Florida. Corey is still in the U.S. Navy, where he has gone through six deployments in 17 years. He is currently Landing Craft Officer at Assault Craft Unit 1 in San Diego.
Corey has two children, Gwenevere and Alexander McCollum.