"Great people are those who make others feel that they, too, can become great." Mark Twain
Lewis Joseph D'Antoni, 103, died due to a short illness at his daughter's home in Barboursville, WV, October 28, 2017.
He was born in McComas, WV, December 31, 1913 to Andrea and Flora D'Antoni. He was the eldest of four children. He was preceded in death by his three younger siblings, Andy (Di), Olga, and Anna.
In 1924, Lewis married the former Betty Jo Bailey and they had four children, Kathy Jo, Lewis Joseph D'Antoni, II (Danny), Michael Andrew, and Mark Bailey.
Lewis graduated from Mullens High School and received a Bachelor's of Science from Concord College and a Master's Degree from Marshall University. Upon graduation from college, he began his teaching/coaching career in Pineville, WV while playing D League professional baseball in the summers. In 1942, Lewis enlisted in the US Navy to serve during World War II. He served 44 months, 15 of those months in the Pacific, as a Lieutenant JG. Upon returning from the war, he resumed his career as a teacher/coach at Mullens High School. Lewis retired in 1982 having coached in Mullens, West Virginia and Chesapeake, Ohio.
Lewis D'Antoni was a highly accomplished athlete and coach. He was also a teacher and High School principal. His greatest success came as a mentor/role model for young people and his community endeavors. He believed that sports, structured correctly, provide young people the right venue to develop into strong and productive members of society. Lewis organized Little League and Babe Ruth in Mullens, the basketball summer leagues, and introduced marble tournaments in the area that produced a national champion.
He was inducted in the Mullens, Chesapeake, and West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and was distinguished as a charter member in the Concord University Hall of Fame. In 1992, 2010, and 2014, he was awarded the distinguished West Virginian Award.
Lewis was the recipient of many awards, but the one that gave him such delight was his hole-in-one, at age 90, played from the white tees at Twin Falls State Park golf course. His remark to someone when they congratulated him on the feat, "Well, it was about time."
Lewis is preceded in death by his wife, Betty Jo.
He is survived by his children, Kathy of Barboursville, WV, Lewis Joseph, II (Vanessa) of Barboursville, WV, Michael Andrew (Laurel) of Houston, Texas, Mark Bailey (Chelle), of St. Albans, WV, his grandchildren, Matthew, Andrew, Nicholas, Morgan, Michael, Bailey, Parker, Kennedy, and his 3 great-grandchildren, Nicholas, Jackson, and William.
Lewis stated in his autobiography in 2010 - "The journey is what gives you life's great ride. To travel with family is what makes it a fulfilling trip. Through my father's life, he showed me that all is determined by how well you prepare and how you choose to react to life's events, both good and bad."
Lewis donated his body to science. The family will hold a celebration of his life in Mullens, WV, the town he loved, in the spring.
Coach Lewis D'Antoni loved his family and loved the game of basketball, so in lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Marshall University Tip-Off Club: Marshall University, The Tip-Off Club, Attention: Teddy, PO Box 1360, Huntington, WV 25715.
Published on November 1, 2017