Earl W. Fuller, first coach to be inducted into the Upstate New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and considered to be "the Dean of College Wrestling" for the organization, passed away on Thursday, July 16. The Dean of College Wrestling coaches in New York State was 98.
Earl Fuller was born June 3, 1922 and raised in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania where he grew up working on his family's farm. He attended Waynesburg High School where he was an accomplished wrestler. Earl continued to wrestle at Waynesburg College where he received his BA. He later received his Masters' Degree from the University of Pittsburgh. During WWII, Earl served in the Navy on the USS Dutchess attack transport ship.
In 1948, Earl began in his career at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology), teaching economics and psychology at the Downtown campus and later taught in the Physical Education Department. For nearly six decades, Earl was a prominent, respected, and well-known member of the RIT community and served it well in a variety of different ways. Earl coached wrestling for 46 seasons and served as a golf coach for 15 years. During his tenure as wrestling coach and golf coach, he recorded 201 wins in wrestling and 158 as the golf coach. On the wrestling side, seven men earned RIT Senior Athlete of the Year honors and 26 were inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame. Earl produced 15 RIT Invitational, nine state and 18 ICAC champions. Additionally, six of his grapplers won the 4-I Tournament and 17 carried off top honors in the Niagara District AAU competition. In 1953-54, he guided the grapplers to a perfect 10-0 record. In golf, he sent a RIT representative to 10 NCAA Championships. And his teams always responded by finishing in the top 10. He boasted seven All-American linksmen and four undefeated campaigns, while leading the squad to 23 winning campaigns. Upon his retirement, he continued to teach RIT golf classes until he was 84 years old.
During his career, Earl earned a number accolades including being inducted into the RIT Sports Hall of Fame for wrestling, golf, and distinguished service in 1979; becoming one of the founder of Rochester's High School Section 5 Association; Earl became a member of the Section 5 High School Hall of Fame, and in 2011, he was inducted into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame. He was a member of the National Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame and was president-elect to the New York State College Wrestling Coaches Association. The Earl Fuller/Frank Marotta Sportsmanship Award is named after him in Rochester and awarded each year to a Rochester High School wrestler. Earl has been a mentor, an inspiration, a leader, and a coach to hundreds of student athletes over the past 50 years.
When asked about Coach Fuller, Carl Koenig, President of Upstate New York Chapter
National Wrestling Hall of Fame, responded instantly: "Earl Fuller was a great coach who dedicated his life to wrestling but more importantly he was a wonderful individual who impacted the lives of all those who he came into contact with in his career."
Koenig added one quick story about Earl: "After a very hotly contested bout that I officiated, he came up to me and said, 'You made all the right calls.'" (I might add that his wrestler did not win the bout … that was the type of person he was. A true professional and gentleman!! Very respected."
Earl is survived by his loving family, wife of 72 years Correne; daughter, Karen Ayres; son, Gregory (Mary Anne) Fuller; daughter, Linda Fuller-Durfee (Arthur Durfee); Sandra (Mark) Biancofiore, 11 grandchildren and 10 great children. Earl's family is eternally grateful to have had him as a husband, dad, grandfather, and friend.
Earl met his wife Correne in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania while working at the Fort Jackson Hotel. They dated, danced at the "gables", and married in 1948. Earl and Correne have fond memories of family picnics at Conesus Lake, visits to Lollipop Farm, drive-in menu theaters where he enjoyed all the popcorn he could eat, sledding, and of course swimming and skating at RIT. The family were members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in the city's 19th ward where Earl served as a Deacon and Elder.
In lieu of flowers, please feel welcome to make a contribution to a charity of your choice.