In Memory

Alfred Pisasale

3/28/28 - 1/22/2020

Pisasale, Alfred "Fred" was born in Omaha's Little Italy.

He attended Central High School, where he was a state champion in wrestling and tennis. Fred served two years in Guam and Hawaii for the U.S. Marine Corp. He graduated from Omaha University (UNO), receiving bachelors and masters degrees in education. Fred helped start Omaha University's first wrestling team, was captain of the tennis team, and played football.

He was an American history teacher at Omaha Benson for 38 years. Fred was Benson's first wrestling coach, longtime tennis coach, and freshman football coach. He also served as the City of Omaha's head tennis professional and as a high school wrestling referee.  Fred loved fishing, golfing, and hunting. He enjoyed summers at Twin Lake in Minnesota and winters in Mesa, Arizona.

Preceded in death by son, Patrick Joseph; parents, Anthony and Concetta; brother, Frank; sister, Mary Marchese. Survived by wife, Jean; son, Phil (Teresa); grandchildren, Cara, Thomas and Gina Pisasale; numerous nieces and nephews.

MEMORIAL MASS Friday 10:30am, at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church.

VISITATION Thursday 5-7pm with a WAKE SERVICE at 7pm, at the John A. Gentleman 72nd St. Chapel.

In lieu of flowers memorials to St. Margaret Mary School, Benson High School Alumni Association or Westside Wrestling Club.


'He really loved teaching.' Former Benson teacher, coach Alfred 'Fred' Pisasale dies at 91

By Stu Pospisil and Erin Grace / World-Herald staff writers


During his 38 years at Benson High School, Alfred “Fred” Pisasale was one of the school’s most popular teachers.

Even among those he would catch chewing gum, smoking or leaving campus for the nearby Dippy Donuts shop across from Gallagher Park, it was so.

“The same people he would bust for cigarette smoking, he would help out. He cared if they succeeded,” son Phil said. “When we’d run into people, they may have gotten suspended or paid gum fines, and they never seemed mad about it.”

Pisasale, a 1946 Central High School graduate who wrestled and played tennis at Omaha University, died Jan. 22 after a brief illness. He was 91. His funeral will be 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church.

Longtime Benson colleague Herb Penner said students respected Pisasale. Some showed it in their own way.  “He would mention when they put his name on the bathroom walls or stalls, it was always ‘Mr. Pisasale this’ or ‘Mr. Pisasale’ that. Not ‘Fred,’ ” Penner said. “He joked about that quite frequently.”

Pisasale was born in Omaha, the son of Italian immigrants from Sicily. His mother died when he was an infant. His father ran a barbershop. The first language Pisasale learned was Italian.

He was a state wrestling champion as a junior at Central, where he also lettered in football and tennis. While in the Marines for two years, he won the All-Pacific wrestling championship and the Marine-Navy singles tennis championship on Guam and wrestled for four months at the U.S. Naval Academy.

He was captain of the tennis team at Omaha University, now the University of Nebraska at Omaha, for three years and went undefeated in 1950. He then coached the team in 1953 while completing his master’s degree. Pisasale was on the university’s first wrestling team in 1949.

The 1954 city singles champion, Pisasale was Omaha’s tennis director for 20 years and directed the city and state high school tennis championships at Dewey Park into the 1980s.

At Benson, he taught American history and government. He coached Bunny tennis teams for 35 years and restarted the school’s wrestling program in 1963. Also a longtime mat official, he was a charter member of the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame and is enshrined in six other halls of fame, including the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame.

“He really loved teaching,” Phil Pisasale said. “He had a master’s in educational administration and didn’t want to do that. He wanted to stay teaching.”  Pisasale left a lasting impression on the young people he coached, taught and worked with in a City of Omaha summer tennis recreation program.

“He was my lifetime mentor. He was the rock of my life,” said Omaha attorney Russ Daub, a 1960 Benson High graduate.

Daub was a junior high kid using a castoff racket to hit a ball near Benson High when he met Pisasale. The coach gave him a better racket and promised to teach him to play. Daub wound up getting a tennis scholarship to college. After Daub opened his law practice, Pisasale referred clients to him. And the old coach would show up at Daub’s annual client dinners to cook the steaks.

The younger Pisasale said his dad enjoyed being the former teacher of Nick Nolte and in 1984 was selected to attend the Chicago premiere of the actor’s movie “Teachers.” Pisasale coached Nolte in freshman football. Nolte attended Benson through his junior year.

Penner said Pisasale assumed the role of social director for Benson staff, arranging dinners and retirement roasts. He attended many high school reunions, the last for the Class of 1964 in October.

“Anyplace you went with Fred, you always ran into somebody who knew him,” Penner said.

Married for 60 years to the former Jean Ascherl, Pisasale and his wife lost their younger son, Pat, in 1979 when he died from injuries in a car-snowmobile crash near Hummel Park.