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Chet Stopyra Chet Stopyra
Inducted: 2006 - Graduated:



Chet Stopyra was born in Lawrence, Mass., on November 9, 1922. He was the fourth son of six children born to Julia and Augustus Stopyra, who had immigrated to the United States from Poland at the turn of the century. He was extremely resourceful, delivering newspapers, selling ice door-to-door, and stocking shelves at a local supermarket in order to pay for his tuition at Central Catholic High School. He was drafted into the Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor, where his brother Julian was killed on the USS Arizona. He served in the 486th Anti-Aircraft Battalion, participating in the D-Day Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded on April 16, 1944, just three weeks before the end of the war, and received both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster.


Chet enrolled after World War II at Ithaca College, where he studied health and physical education. He graduated from Ithaca in 1949 and earned a master’s in health education from Boston University in 1950. He married Mildred Ann Conroy of Hingham, Mass., on August 12, 1950. They lived in Boston and Chet taught physical education at Boston Latin High School, the oldest public high school in the country. A few years later Chet was offered a position as assistant football coach and director of physical education for the City of Lawrence Schools, where he stayed until 1957.


He then moved his family, which now included three children – Thomas, Mary Lee and Judith Ann – to Monsey, N.Y., and Chet embarked on his career at Nanuet as a physical education teacher at George W. Miller Elementary School. In 1960 he was appointed director of physical education, health and recreation when the new high school was completed. In the early years of Nanuet’s athletic programs he served as assistant football coach and head baseball coach, and supervised recreational programs such as Junior Teenagers and Saturday Morning Basketball. Every summer his family went off to Camp Bob White in Marlboro, Mass., where Chet was the water safety instructor. He was especially well known for his unique ability to teach water-fearing adults and children how to swim.


Chet Stopyra was a leader among his peers in the Rockland County Public School Athletic League, and served as Section 9 (Rockland, Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties) tennis chairman for many years. He always valued fair play and sportsmanship and demonstrated this both on and off the field. He was deeply troubled by the enormous competitive inequity faced by Nanuet’s football program playing schools with larger enrollments, and in 1978 declared independent status. His vision of equal competition based on school size and not geographic location is the standard in high school sports today.


He was among the first athletic directors anywhere to create a football camp for high school athletes. He was always able to provide adequate funding for all sports programs, including Title IX. He was a superior organizer and administrator, knowing when to intervene and when to encourage. He was never afraid to take a risk to improve Nanuet’s athletic programs nor did he shy away from the consequences in the event of a mistake. He maintained a constant presence at Nanuet High School and could most often be found in his office in the basement between the maintenance shop and wrestling room, or somewhere on the sidelines watching and waiting for the right moment.


After serving faithfully at Nanuet for 26 years, he retired in 1983 and subsequently moved to Fripp Island, S.C. He passed away suddenly on April 25, 1988 at home, at age 65. His legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of those coaches, athletes and administrators who had the pleasure of seeing him smile when Nanuet won and frown at the thought of a loss.