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Hall Of Fame Coach Bob Hollembaek Passes Away

BY DAVE SHEA

Word has been received that Robert "Bob" Hollembaek, age 84, passed away Saturday, February 8, 2020 at the Embrace Hospice House in Myrtle Beach, SC with his loving family by his side.

Arrangements and a complete obituary are pending.

Mr. Hollembaek is entrusted to the care of Lewis Crematory and Funeral Services, Myrtle Beach, SC.

Bob Hollembaek was a long time educator and coach at Ogdensburg Free Academy and St. Mary's Academy who also enjoyed an outstanding career as a high school collegiate official in basketball and baseball. He enshrined as a coach in the first class of the OFA-St. Mary's Academy Athletic Hall of Fame.

Hollembaek was honored among the coaches of the first class and enjoyed great success coaching at both OFA and St. Mary’s. He forged an overall record of 139-49 and presided over basketball in the enormously successful transition years after St. Mary’s closed at the completion of the 1969 school year.

In the early 1970’s his teams at OFA won 40 straight games and at one point won 58 of 59 games.

A member of the LeMoyne College Class of 1959, he lettered in basketball and baseball for four years. He was hired in 1959 by St. Mary’s Academy to coach basketball. His other duties were Athletic Director, teacher football, baseball and JV basketball coach.

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. Canton Central’s New York State Hall of Fame Coach Jerry Hourihan presented him at the induction ceremony for the first class of the Ogdensburg Free Academy/St. Mary’s Academy Hall of Fame. “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 Hourihan. “After he retired from coaching in 1971 he officiated a lot of my games and he always let me get up a little extra,” Hourihan added. At his induction Hollembaek spoke of the unselfishness of the teams and the quality of the players he coached in Ogdensburg before beginning a long and very successful career as a high school and college basketball official and a high school and college baseball umpire.

“That 1969 team had great players but they were totally unselfish. As long as the team won, they were all happy,” said Hollembaek.

“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.”

The last two teams he coached, in 1970 and 1971, both entered the hall when the second class was inducted on Sept. 27.

Both teams featured players who excelled at both St. Mary's which closed at the end of the 1969 school and the two teams combined on a 41-game winning streak.

The 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 at that time) and only one game was won by less than 19 points.

"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 team spokesman at the induction.

Coach Hollembaek is also remembered as a hall of fame father, grandfather and family man.

"Heaven gained an angel today the best grandfather that any little girl could have, we all love you so much," said his granddaughter Tori Daley on her facebook page.

Bill Merna and Jerry Hourihan welcome Bob Hollembaek, accompanied by his wife Isabelle, into the OFA-SMA HOF.

Coach Bob Hollembaek greets a new member of his family.

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