For Immediate Release — June 22, 2004


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516



GENESEO, N.Y. — Carl William Witzel, professor emeritus of health, physical education and recreation, and longtime men’s soccer coach at the State University of New York at Geneseo, died suddenly and peacefully June 19. A resident of West Henrietta and longtime resident of Scottsville, he was 80.

Witzel was born in Rochester, N.Y., and attended Monroe High School. Following high school, he served as a sailor in the U.S. Navy for four years during World War II. After returning home to New York state, he received his bachelor’s in physical education from SUNY Cortland in 1949 and his master’s in guidance from Alfred University in 1951.

While Witzel was teaching and coaching in Rochester, he was recruited to come work at SUNY Geneseo by then-President Robert W. MacVittie, said Fred Bright, a longtime friend and colleague who served as Witzel’s assistant soccer coach. In September 1963, Witzel joined the faculty as an associate professor in the health, physical education and recreation department, and as coach of the men’s soccer and basketball teams.

"The college was growing fast, and the president and vice president were out recruiting," Bright said. With the completion of the Carl L. Schrader Health & Physical Education Building in 1961, the college was expanding its athletic program and working toward attracting more male students to attend the college, Bright said.

Witzel served as basketball coach from 1963-69 and as soccer coach from 1963 until he retired in 1985.

"He had a very loyal following of players who stopped by his house after graduation, who continued to view him as a father figure person who was instrumental in shaping their lives," Bright said. "I think he was a mentor who was respected.

"The start was very humble," Bright said, recalling that in Witzel’s first season coaching soccer the team posted a record of either 0-13 or 1-13.

Witzel worked hard to build the men’s basketball and soccer programs, Bright said. After six years of coaching two sports, he was able to concentrate on soccer in addition to his faculty post, he said.

"He worked his players very hard. He expected a lot from them, and they were up to it," Bright said.

Witzel’s teams went on to have winning seasons and produce All-Americans.

"When he came, the teams were struggling to win a few games, and by the time he retired they were recognized as a fierce competitor in the SUNY Conference," Bright said.

Witzel was inducted into the SUNY Geneseo Sports Hall of Fame on May 2, 1992. He was the 41st person to be inducted into the hall.

"He was an outstanding teacher and really cared about his students, and they liked him," said Myrtle A. Merritt, a longtime colleague and former chair of the department. "And he was a great coach."

Marilyn Moore, athletic director for the college, agreed.

"He created a lasting impression on all of the lives of the young men he touched, both on and off the field," Moore said.

Witzel lived on a horse farm in Scottsville until two years ago, when he and his wife moved to a condominium in West Henrietta, Bright said. He and his wife selected Scottsville for its swimming program, as both his son and daughter swam competitively, Bright said. In addition, his daughter competed as an equestrian, so he found a home perfect for a horse farm, he said.

Athletics played an important role throughout Witzel’s life. He played basketball and soccer for SUNY Cortland and on a summer softball league for Eastman Kodak Co. that was part of a program where college students were required to play ball in order to work, Bright said.

Witzel is survived by his wife of 56 years, Carol Barons Witzel; son, David (Sonia) Witzel of Mendon, N.Y.; daughter, Susan (Michael) Putroff of Georgia; grandchildren, Zane, Joseph and Emily; sister, Nancy Bruczicki of Conesus; and many nieces and nephews.

Witzel’s family will hold an immediate private memorial service, but is planning a public service for later this summer so Witzel’s former students and players can make travel arrangements to attend, Bright said.

Memorials may be made to the Scottsville Free Library or the Henrietta Volunteer Ambulance. The J.H. Cameron Funeral Home in Scottsville is handling the arrangements.