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Prep mourns the loss of Bob Sylvester, Athletic Hall of Fame coach and teacher

The following is a message sent out to the Fairfield Prep Community.

In Loving Memory:
Prep Legend Robert (Bob) Sylvester Talented Teacher, Administrator and Hall of Fame Coach

It is with great admiration and heartfelt fondness that we remember Fairfield Prep legend Bob Sylvester Sr., a talented teacher, administrator and hall of fame coach, who died peacefully on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, with his loving children by his side in Moosic, Pennsylvania. Bob was preceded in death by his devoted wife of 52 years, the former Joan Luciani who passed away in 2011. Bob’s son Robert Sylvester Jr. ’79 and grandson Robert Sylvester III ’14 are Prep alumni. 

Bob was born May 26, 1936, in Jessup, PA, where he graduated from high school. He received his BS degree from the University of Scranton and his MA from Fairfield University. Bob continued studies at Fairfield University and received his Certification of Advanced Studies in Administration. He honorably served in the U.S. Army as a captain, completing U.S. Infantry School at Ft. Benning, GA. During his time in the military at Fort Dix, NJ, the Army saw a special talent in Bob. He was assigned to teach and speak to large groups of Army Service Members returning home from Europe. This is where Bob discovered his great passion for teaching and his extraordinary career of service to others.

Bob held several positions during his 24-year career at Fairfield College Preparatory School, including: Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Associate Principal for Admissions and Public Relations, Senior Housemaster, Chairman of the Department of Social Studies, and Instructor of American History and Constitutional History. In 1959, at the young age of 23, Bob became the Junior Varsity Basketball Coach and two years later became the Head Varsity Basketball Coach. During his tenure as basketball coach (1959-1977), Fairfield Prep qualified for the state tournament 16 of 18 years. The team won five conference championships along with two State Runners-Up and in 1969 won the State Championship. Coach Sylvester once wrote, "I was so young. Looking back on the entire career and using the great teams I coached as a focal point, I can say that I am one of the luckiest guys in the world. I had the privilege of teaching and coaching some of the best and brightest students and athletes." 

Bob received numerous awards during his career at Fairfield Prep. He was inducted into the Fairfield Prep Hall of Fame in 1983 and in 1992 was the recipient of the Fairfield University 50-year anniversary Jubilee Medal. During that same year, Bob was honored by being asked to give the commencement address to the Fairfield Prep graduating class of 1992. Bob was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and into the Fairfield Prep Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018. During his life and career, Bob embodied the Jesuit vision and motto "Men and Women for Others."

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May Robert now rest in peace. Amen. 

A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023 at Our Lady of the Snows, 301 South State Street, Clarks Summit, Interment St. John's Cemetery, Jessup, PA. 

Read more about Bob Sylvester in his obituary.

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