Bob Hollembaek Laid To Rest Wednesday
BY DAVE SHEA
Bob Hollembaek came to Ogdensburg to teach and coach at St. Mary's Academy in the fall of 1959 following his spring graduation from LeMoyne College where he was a four-year standout in basketball and baseball. His other duties at SMA were: Athletic Director, teacher and football, baseball and JV basketball coach.
Two years later he married Isabelle Watson at Notre Dame Church and found a home in Ogdensburg where he presided over an historic transition of local sports. When St. Mary's Academy closed in 1969 he blended the outstanding talent from the two schools into a standard of excellence at Ogdensburg Free Academy.
He left coaching in 1971 to officiate basketball and baseball at the high school and college level to provide for his family. The last two teams he coached at OFA, in 1970 and 1971 combined on a 41-game winning streak.
In 1964 he joined the staff at OFA as varsity basketball coach and forged a seven year record of 92-32 and his basketball record for eleven years at SMA and OFA was 139-49.
Fittingly, as a coach, he was inducted as a member of the first class of the Ogdensburg Free Academy-St. Mary's Academy Hall of Fame in 2018.
Hollembaek, who resided in Myrtle Beach, S.C. following his retirement from OFA as a 30-year guidance counselor, will come home to Ogdensburg for a final time on Wednesday.
A Memorial Mass for Robert E. Hollembaek, age 84, of Myrtle Beach, SC, formerly of Ogdensburg, NY, and Syracuse, NY, will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday (July 29, 2020) at Notre Dame Church with Monsignor Dennis Dupree and Father Joseph Morgan officiating. Calling hours will be held on Wednesday (July 29, 2020) from 10- 11: a.m. at Notre Dame Church, Ogdensburg.
Inurnment will be in Foxwood Memorial Park. Bob passed away on Saturday night, February 8, 2020, at Embrace Hospice House in Myrtle Beach surrounded by his loving family.
LOVED HIS PLAYERS, COMMUNITY
Coach Hollembaek's 1970 team forged a perfect 20-0 season winning the Northern League Regular Season and Playoff Championships as one of the most dominant teams in area high school annals.
The Devils were only the third team to go undefeated in 54 years of Northern League play, finished 10th in the New York State Sportswriters Poll (1 ranking for teams of all class sizes) and only one game was won by less than 19 points.
“The kids I coached at OFA and St. Mary’s were the best in the world and I loved them all. I loved the community. I almost left once but I met my wife here and she wanted to stay. Eventually I went to officiating because I had three kids and I needed to make more money," said Hollembaek in 2018 when he was inducted as a coach in the first class of the Ogdensburg Free Academy - St. Mary's Academy Hall of Fame.
Hollembaek's success as a coach was founded on his ability to make his teams play the way he played. His players were totally unselfish and naturally put team goals over individual success.
"We had great players but they were totally unselfish. As long as the team won, they were all happy," said Coach Hollembaek at the hall of fame induction.
“I remember reading about Bob (Hollembaek) when he played at LeMoyne. He was fiery and a tough defender. His teams played just like him. I remember those teams in 1967, 1968 and 1969. They were diggers," said Canton Central's New York State Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Jerry Hourihan in introducing Coach Hollembaek at the OFA-SMA Hall of Fame Induction.
"We were good. We went undefeated, our practices were killer. We all wanted to make each other better. We would get together and say lets go play hoops. With Coach Hollembaek our defense was always set. He was the best coach in the league, said a team spokesman when the 1970 and 1971 OFA teams were inducted into the hall of fame last September.
BOB HOLLEMBAEK OBITURARY
Memorial Mass for Robert E. Hollembaek, age 84, of Myrtle Beach, SC, formerly of Ogdensburg, NY, and Syracuse, NY, will be held at 11:00AM on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, at Notre Dame Church with Monsignor Dennis Dupree and Father Joseph Morgan officiating. Calling hours will be held on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, from 10:00AM to 11:00AM at Notre Dame Church, Ogdensburg. Inurnment will be in Foxwood Memorial Park. Robert passed away on Saturday night, February 8, 2020, at Embrace Hospice House in Myrtle Beach surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by his wife, Isabelle Hollembaek; his four children, Elizabeth Daley and her husband, Matthew, of Waddington, NY, Mary B. McGuire and her husband, James, of Liverpool, NY, Robert J. Hollembaek and his wife, Natalie Ray, of Pawley’s Island, SC, and Brett W. Hollembaek and his wife, Lisa Fries, of Socastee, SC; two brothers, Frederick Hollembaek and wife, Carolyn, of New Bern, NC and Richard Hollembaek and wife, Eileen, of Jamesville, NY; two sisters, Nancy Sheehan and her husband, Robert, of Baldwinsville, NY and Catherine Kanaley and husband, James of Saratoga Springs, NY. He is also survived by nine grandchildren, Kristian and Victoria Daley, Ryan and Grace McGuire, Robert R., Lauren, Ashley, Megan, and Emalee Hollembaek; and many nieces and nephews. He is predeceased his parents and his brother, David Hollembaek. Robert was born on January 10, 1936 in Groton, NY, the son of Robert S. and Catherine Reschke Hollembaek. He graduated from Assumption High School in Syracuse in 1953 and went on to Dean Academy in Massachusetts. After finishing prep school, he graduated from Lemoyne College in 1959 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. On June 30, 1961, Robert married Isabelle Watson at Notre Dame Church in Ogdensburg with Rev. Francis Menard officiating. He later received a Master’s Degree from St. Lawrence University in 1965. He first went to work for St. Mary’s Academy as a teacher until it’s closing in 1969. He then went to work at Ogdensburg Free Academy where he started as a special education teacher. Robert retired from OFA in 1994, where he served as a guidance counselor for over 30 years. During his time at St. Mary’s and OFA, Robert contributed immensely to their basketball programs and oversaw the transition of St. Mary’s program to OFA after its closing and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. After retiring from coaching, he became a referee and umpire for high school and college basketball and baseball. Robert also served on the Ogdensburg City Council for many years and served as the Deputy Mayor. He served on Notre Dame Church Council and as a lecture until moving to Myrtle Beach where he was a greeter at St. Andrews Church. Robert played basketball and baseball in high school, college, and throughout a majority of his adult life. Mr. Hollembaek was a member of the Elks Lodge, the Knights of Columbus, and the Optimist Club in Myrtle Beach. Memorial contributions in Robert’s name can be made to The Shriner’s Hospital for Children, 2900 N. Rocky Point Dr., Tampa, Fl 33607 or St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105.