Coaching at Fenwick High School was a lifelong dream of Paul Raffaelli, who attended and played football at the school for two years before finishing out his high school days at Elmwood Park High School. After graduating from Elmhurst College, Raffaelli returned to Fenwick and coached in all sorts of capacities for the next 18 years, up until his death on Nov. 24 after a two-year battle with colon cancer. Raffaelli was 39 years old.

“He was a great guy and a great coach,” said Fenwick head basketball coach John Quinn, who taught and coached Raffaelli. “Paul was that special person who loved coaching and teaching kids. We will miss him around here.”

Quinn and the boys varsity basketball team dedicated their recent St. Patrick Thanksgiving Tournament Championship victory to the memory of Raffaelli. Several of Quinn’s players were coached by Raffaelli in the football program, and attended his wake hours before their second-round game against Longwood on Friday.

Raffaelli coached in the Fenwick football program. He became a coach for Fenwick in 1990 at the freshman and sophomore levels. Raffaelli began working at the varsity level shortly thereafter, mainly coaching the defensive line.

Back in August, the Fenwick football program dedicated its season-opening victory over Lane Tech at Soldier Field to Raffaelli.

A funeral service was held on Saturday.

Memorials can be made to the Paul F. Raffaelli Scholarship Fund c/o Development Office at Fenwick High School, 505 Washington Blvd., Oak Park, 60302.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...