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In Memoriam: Larry Panciera
October 19, 1998
Former UConn baseball coach Lawrence Panciera of Weekapaugh R.I., died September 8 after a long illness. He was 76.
A native of Westerly, R.I., and a graduate of the then Rhode Island State College, Panciera was a star athlete, playing both baseball and football. He started his college career in 1940, but left to serve in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, completing his degree after the war. After graduation, he spent three years on the staff of Killingly High School in Danielson, Conn., serving as the school's first athletic director and as coach of baseball and football, winning state titles in both sports.
In 1950, he began his 30-year career at UConn, joining the Husky staff as freshman football coach. In 1954, he began coaching college baseball as assistant to then head coach J.O. Christian. Eight years later he began his 18-year tenure (1962-1979) as head baseball coach, continuing as football assistant coach as well until 1970, when he was appointed assistant athletic director.
"He was a first-rate guy. We were not only good friends, we were good neighbors," says Edward Bartholomew, professor emeritus of metallurgy, who joined UConn the same year as Panciera and followed his coaching career with interest. "He was a serious young man and that carried over to baseball."
He brought to his baseball coaching career at UConn a 118-18 win-loss coaching record with high school, American Legion and freshman teams. When he retired in 1980, his record as coach of the Huskies was 297 wins, 160 losses and 5 ties.
Six times he was named New England Coach of the Year and in 1979 he was honored as the NCAA Northeast Regional Coach of the Year. His final season was his best, the winningest year in Husky history with a 31-13 record, the ECAC New England Championship and the NCAA Northeast Regional Crown. He won numerous other awards, including the University Medallion in 1971, the UConn Club Outstanding Contribution Award in 1973, and the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance Gold Key in 1979.
He is survived by his wife, Frances Panciera, two sons, five grandchildren and three brothers. Memorial contributions may be made to the Lawrence R. Panciera Scholarship Fund, The University of Connecticut Foundation Inc., 2131 Hillside Road, U-206, P.O. Box 552, Storrs, CT 06268-0552.