In Memoriam

In Memoriam of the handball community members who have passed away.  Online obituary notices and pictures can be emailed to U.S. Handball This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   

July 2017

Claude Hunter, Jr., Orlando, Florida

The handball community lost a great ambassador on July 23, 2017, when Claude Hunter, Jr., 82, went to be with the Lord.
Quite an athlete, Claude’s sports career started at Orlando High School as a runner, setting track records in the 100- and 200-meter dash.  He was the captain of every sports team he played on, including basketball and football, where he was a running back.  After graduation in 1952, he attended the University of Florida, joined Sigma Chi Fraternity, and became a life-long and die-hard Gators fan. 
After moving back to Orlando, Claude opened his own business, Hunter Insurance Agency, which he ran until he retired. His many community activities included memberships in the South Orlando Kiwanis Club, Orlando Remembered, Regional History Center, Orlando Old Timers, Junior Chamber of Commerce, Miss Florida Pageant Board, Citizens Police Program, and the Downtown YMCA Board.
Even though he was a fierce competitor who loved the game of handball, Claude was always a gentleman on the court, known for his fairness and friendliness to everyone.  He donated his own money and time to help raise scholarship money for disadvantaged kids whose parents couldn’t afford a YMCA membership.  He often encouraged his fellow handball players to contribute, too.
For over 20 years Claude ran a handball tournament he founded at the Downtown Orlando YMCA.  At the tournaments, later re-named in Claude’s honor, he worked harder than anyone to organize, promote, and see to it that things ran smoothly.  One year as Claude and some of his buddies were outside grilling steaks (under a canopy in the rain) for the Saturday night dinner, they had the back door to the Y propped open, and smoke pouring in set off the fire alarm, followed by sirens, fire trucks, and firefighters.  Never a dull moment at one of Claude’s handball tournaments!  Even after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, Claude continued to play handball until he was 79. 
A large group of handball players from all over the state of Florida attended Claude’s funeral, where, in his honor, they wore shirts from his tournaments and sat in a section reserved for them.  The church was packed with friends and relatives.
A lifelong member of Downtown Baptist Church, Claude was loved by all who knew him, but especially by Gloria, his wife of 59 years.  He is survived by daughter Kimberly Chris Hunter, son Michael Claude Hunter, two grandchildren, Amy and Michael Alliman, brother Fred Copelan (Ann) Hunter, and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.  Claude will be sorely missed at the YMCA and around the handball courts.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Downtown Orlando YMCA Scholarship Fund and Downtown Orlando Baptist Church.   Read the legacy.com obituary and sign the guestbook HERE.

May 2017

Don Davis, Silvis, Illinois

Don Davis was born Jan. 16, 1935 in Muscatine, the son of William and Elva Davis. He married Nancy Peters in 1955.  He graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., and received his Masters degree from the Univ. of Iowa.  He taught social studies and coached football, baseball and basketball.  Don was inducted into the United Township High School Hall of Fame in 2007.            

Don Davis was an avid handball player and was devoted to the sport.  I appreciate him teaching me how to play this wonderful game, and all the outstanding aspects the sport has to offer.  Thank you, Dad!!!

John Davis,
Bartlett, Ill.


Brian Clifford McCool, Huntington Beach, CA

McCool, Brian Clifford, born in Montreal, Canada, passed peacefully in Anaheim, CA on May 18, 2017.  Brian moved to Huntington Beach California from Montreal 50 years ago to embark on a new life with his young family.  Brian is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Sandra (nee Stevens), his children Daniel, Donna (Mark), Wendy, Colleen (Bill), and Joseph (Catherine).  Brian was preceded in death by his brother, James McCool and is survived by his siblings Marlene Currie, Sharon, Patrick (Connie) and Kevin McCool (Kimm).  Brian will be dearly missed by his nine grandchildren, Alexandra, Piper, Kiya, Gabriella, Sara, Catie, Ciaran, Keeley , and Emily.  A memorial service and reception will be held on Saturday, June 17, 2017, at 1:00 p.m., at the Huntington Beach Senior Center at Central Park, 18041 Goldenwest Street,  Huntington Beach, CA.


April 2017

Calvin Mittman, Fresh Meadows, N.Y.

For those who may not be aware, my father (Calvin) passed away unexpectedly, on Monday, while he was at work at St. John's University. The math professor, who when asked when he would retire, always responded that he would die doing what he loved -- and that is what he did (he started as professor at SJU in 1962). My Dad always had a smile and was the "Rock of Gibraltar" for our family (Geni Baker, Adam Mittman and Linda Mittman) and beyond. All are in disbelief that he could possibly be gone.

I did so much with my Dad and he greatly influenced my desire to be a professor. Probably the only thing he can't get credit for is handball. Despite him having won a national collegiate handball championship with RPI in the late 1950's, my interest in handball happened entirely in spite of his many efforts. He was the best Dad ever and he will be forever missed. (My sister made me put in forever!!!!).
- Scott Mittman

January 2017

Tom Cunningham, Boulder, Colo.

Thomas Cunningham ObituaryTom Cunningham died at his home of natural causes on January 22. He was 68. Tom lived a rich and varied life, and leaves behind many close and lifelong friends. Tom was born in Oak Park, Illinois. As a result, he was an avid, but long-suffering Chicago sports fan. A visit with Tom would usually include the Cubs or Bears on a TV in the background. It wasn't the Bears winning the Super Bowl in 1986, or the Bulls winning six championships in the 1990's, it was when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016 that Tom felt Chicago sports had finally reached its potential! Tom graduated with a Bachelor's degree in History from the University of Arizona and went on to receive his Master's Degree in Public Health from the University of Illinois. He received a Fellowship and worked at Argonne National Laboratories before moving to Boulder in 1979. In Boulder, he worked with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and spent his later years as an avid investor and stock trader. Tom was a master handball competitor. He and various partners were Colorado doubles champions for many years, and he competed in numerous national tournaments. He was a great friend, and will be missed for his keen intelligence, sharp wit, and generous spirit.

I met Tom Cunningham at Pete Tyson's Handball Camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado back in 1987. Tom and I began a good friendship there, one that went beyond just our love of the game of handball and our Chicago roots. Both Tom and I had left Chicago in our 20's, with him heading to the mountains of Boulder and me heading for the sun of Los Angeles. But we never lost our love for our Chicago sports teams, especially the Cubs. I'm especially glad that the Cubs won the World Series this year, for so many reasons - one of them being that Tom got to see them win a World Series in his lifetime. Because I found out last Sunday that Tom passed away that previous week. It's a big loss for me and one that I've spent the week processing feelings about. Tom (who I called Gerald - long story) was a good friend of mine and someone who I visited often when I went to Colorado. I always stayed at the house in Boulder with Tom and his wife Nancy and I have great memories of time spent together. And Tom and I remained good friends all these years, even though his handball career ended years ago due to an array of injuries. Tom was a good handball player and a better friend. The players out in the Denver/Boulder area knew him well - not so much around the country, as he didn't travel much to tournaments. But he loved the game, like so many of us do. And his passing is a loss to me. Safe travels, my friend. Colorado will never be the same for me. - Randy Multack, Bellevue, Was.

Fred Hepp Sr., Naples, Fla.

Fred Hepp ObituaryFred H Hepp Sr. passed away Friday January 6, 2017 in the presence of his loving family. Fred was born December 18, 1934 to Eva and Herman Hepp in Chicago Illinois. He was predeceased by his parents, brothers Harold, Joe and sister Elaine, son Scottie, and wife Susie Darlene Hepp.Fred enlisted in the US Army in 1951 and was awarded the Bronze Medal during the Korean War winter conflict. He was honorably discharged April 1960.Fred is survived by his loving wife Marie Estelle Hepp; sister Helen; children, Ralph, Kathleen, Rebecca (Frank), Fred Jr.(Jackie) Kyle lll (Diane), Donald (Cindy), Bobby (Melanie). Many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He had many close relatives and friends and was greatly loved by all.Fred owned and operated F.W. Kline & Sons, Inc. In Bellwood Illinois for 30 years. He was known in the Chicago area as "Mr. Dorcheck". He enjoyed an early retirement and became a resident of Marco Island, Florida. He was honored by the White House in 1976 for his fine service to the Northwest Lions National Little League in Chicago. Leo Durocher also honored him for his contributions to little league. Fred was an avid handball player, golfer and traveler. He had an incredible zest for life.Fred's celebration of life will be Saturday January 14. Woodlawn Funeral Home in Forest Park, Illinois. Private viewing for family members will be at 10 to 11 AM, with public visitation being from 11 AM until time of funeral service 12 Noon. Interment to follow at Woodlawn Cemetery. Donations may be made in Fred's name to St.Jude's Children's Hospital or The Salvation Army. For further information please call (708) 442-8500 or visit www.woodlawnchicago.com.  

December 2016

Dr. Bob Shack, Short Hills, N.J.

On Christmas Eve, New Jersey handball lost a special person when Dr. Bob Shack, 73, passed away in Short Hills, N.J., due to a nervous system disorder.
   Dr. Shack was a member of the North Jersey Handball League championship Orange 'A' teams which won four consecutive titles during the 1970s.   He also partnered with Joe Thomas to win a number of John Sabo Memorial New Jersey Handball Doubles championships in masters and golden masters divisions. 
   More importantly, he helped many New Jersey handball players with their medical conditions. Dr. Shack was a surgeon at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, NJ,  and he referred players to the best specialists he knew in New Jersey and New York City. 

Estelle Hirsch Aber, Los Gatos, CA.
(Sep. 10, 1919 - Dec. 23, 2016)

Estelle was born in New York but moved to California in 1948, living mostly in San Jose.  She is survived by her two son's Michael (predeceased by Valerie Galey), Jeffrey (Janice), grandson Joshua (Brooke) and two great-grandchildren Hudson and Lily.  She was happily married to Sol Aber (a USHA Grand Master) for 67 years who passed in 2008.  She enjoyed her time with their many friends traveling, especially to handball tournaments with Sol, playing pan and mahjong and working her crossword puzzles.  While her body was failing, her mind and spirit remained sharp.  In lieu of flowers please make a donation to a charity of your choice .


November 2016

Ross Willis, Blacksburg, VA.
On November 14th, Ross Willis of Blacksburg, VA, had just finished several great handball games with his Blacksburg friends at the handball courts on the VA Tech campus when he collapsed and died walking to his car.  Ross was a well known player in the Blacksburg/Roanoke area.  Ross was 63 years old and had retired in 2015 after working in VA Tech's Biochemistry Department for 35 years.   



Patrick Gerald McVey, St. Louis, MO.
(Aug. 18, 1959 - Nov. 9, 2016)

    Pat McVey, 57, lifelong handball player and member of the St. Louis Hinder Club was murdered November 9th enroute to his club for a SLHC League match.  Pat was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds around 6 p.m. when a MoDOT worker spotted his car parked on the shoulder of I-55 and stopped to investigate. Police say he had been shot about 2:30 p.m. The shooter is still unknown and Crime Stoppers (1-866-371-8477 for Tips or Donations) is offering rewards upwards of $60,000 for information. 
    Pat loved the “Perfect Game” but played only locally, devoting his life to family and his restaurant, “Maggie O’Brien’s Restaurant & Irish Pub”. A St. Louis native, Pat had been at Maggie's more than three decades, working under the original owner before eventually taking over with younger brother Eddie. The sprawling sports bar and restaurant is host to Missouri State Handball Tournaments in addition to being a favorite of Blues and Cards fans.  Pat was a gifted athlete, sportsman, and true gentleman.  He delighted in helping others and was always willing to spend time with new players and will be fondly remembered by the St. Louis Handball community.
    Pat is survived by his wife Marianne, daughter Maggie, son Michael, and 10 siblings.  

October 2016

Ed McHugh, Pittsburgh, PA.
    Pittsburgh handball tragically lost its all-time favorite player on October 20, 2016, when Ed McHugh, DDS passed away at the age of 58. Ed was a rising star during the 1970's & 1980' s, the golden age of Pittsburgh handball, when the Pittsburgh Handball Association boasted over 150 locally ranked players. Always a threat to local legends Rick Abrams, Mike Flaherty, Ken Foster, Bob Nell, Mark Abranovic, Tom Feola, Rod Fink, Tom Cornelius, Steve Mele, Jim Sanders and David Fink, Ed broke through in the early 90s, laying claim to Pittsburgh's #1 ranking.
    Ed's gentlemanly, laid-back manner, both on and off the court, belied his intense competitiveness, where his stamina, retrieving ability and complete ambidexterity often had his opponents looking for oxygen half way through the first game.  It appeared that Ed would intentionally pass up kill opportunities just to run his opponents into the ground. But Ed's demeanor never wavered-polite and always exhibiting excellent sportsmanship. Outside the court, Ed displayed quiet character and dignity, an excellent hard-working dentist and role model to his beloved son, Joey.
    It was, however, in open doubles where Ed's dominate left hand frustrated nationally recognized teams both at home and away - notching signature wins in Cleveland, Sharon, PA, Youngstown, Albany and Penn State - as well as the prestigious Pittsburgh Open. Always humble, Ed would often say after each Open title, "I  have no idea why they kept serving to Jeff (Roth); he's the better player."
    Ed was the son of legendary handballer, Joe McHugh, who together with Eleanor, raised a fine gentleman and friend to all who had the privilege to spend time with him in our little world.

Rodney Fink

July 2016

Jeff Boyd, Rochester, NY.

    Jeff Boyd passed away on July 11th, 2016 at the age of 71 as a result of cardiac arrest in Butner, North Carolina. Born on January 23rd, 1945 in Buffalo, New York, he grew up in nearby East Aurora and later moved to Front Royal, Virginia. As a contract computer programmer with months- to year-long contracts for companies from Intel to Raytheon, he lived in many cities: Baltimore, Portland, Cedar Rapids, Colorado Springs, and Rochester, among others.
    Jeff constantly questioned, wanting to better understand the fundamentals of math and physics on one hand and how society could be better constructed to fulfill people’s potential on the other. But for a balanced life, another passion was handball. In each city in which he lived he was part of the handball community and developed many strong friendships. He is survived by his brother, Tom, children, Tim, Toddie, Jennifer, Oliver, Diana, and Sam, 11 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren and will be missed by both family and friends.   

Joel Jones, Durango, CO.

     Joel Jones, a fellow player, benefactor, and friend to many in our handball fraternity has passed. Joel loved handball and played for many years in Albuquerque and Durango. He was a strong supporter of the handball camps conducted over the years in Durango by Pete Tyson, John Bike and others.  He often hosted receptions for campers at his home. Joel fought the good fight against the Big C with the same determination he brought to the handball court.

Vince Breining, San Francisco

     The handball world lost a good man and great friend on July 5.  Vince Breining, 63, was instrumental in Golden Gate Park Handball tournaments for many years.  Vince learned handball at the “Park,” and became one of the top right side doubles players in the Bay Area.  Over the years, Breining partnered and won with Mike Treacy, Mike Kelly and Gary Stedman.  Unfortunately, diabetes and a shoulder injury took him off the court but didn’t diminish his enthusiasm for the game or its players.  Always upbeat and a pleasure to spend time with, Vince will be greatly missed by his family and friends.


May 2016

Art Pruitt, Flint, MI

    Art Pruitt, age 83, passed away Friday, May 13, 2016 at Hurley Medical Center.  Art was a longtime handball player in Michigan who played and supported many four-wall and three-wall tournaments.  Read Charlie Doyle's "My Friend Art" tribute HERE. 

Ed Rice, Wilmington, DE.

    Ed Rice, winner of many local and regional tournaments representing the Wilmington YMCA, died May 8 at 99.  Ed was the captain of the Y handball team in the Mason/Dixon League.  He also organized the “First State Doubles” at the YMCA that drew many of the best players in East during the 60s and 70s.


April 2016

Vince Magi, Detroit, MI.

    Vince Magi died on April 21, 2016. Vince took up handball to develop hand eye coordination and stamina as an outfielder on the Michigan State Baseball Team. It obviously helped. He later was at the top level in the Minnesota Twins Farm Club System as an outfielder Unfortunately the Twins had Harmon Killibrew, Jim Lemon and another great outfielder ahead of him.  In college he'd discussed after college careers with Mike Ilitch a teammate. Mike was talking Pizza, Mike? Pizza? No, no, you want to go into something solid, steady like teaching advised Vince. So Vince went into teaching and Mike went into Pizza---think Little Caesers.  Vince played at many handball venues and gathered many honors highlighted by the 1981 National Golden Masters Doubles Three Wall Championship.


January 2016

Gabe Enriquez, Los Angeles

            Gabe Enriquez, a member of the SCHA and LAAC Handball Halls of Fame passed away in January 2016.  Gabe was survived by his wife Luz and brother Miguel.  A great player, a great mentor and promoter of the game, Gabe’s memory will live on in the fabled LAAC.

Ronald Miller, Albany, NY

    Ronald H. Miller, 76, whose big heart, easy manner and devotion to public service endeared him to disparate communities of friends and family members in the Capital Area and beyond, died early Saturday, January 23, 2016, at St. Peter's Hospital. Wearing with pride the distinctive accent of his native Bronx, Miller was a 45 year resident of the Albany area, most of that time in Menands.  Among his lifelong passions, Miller was an avid handball player, expert in the indoor four wall game. He took First Place in the 1986 Capital District Handball Championships, and acquired generations of handball friends, and in recent years, doubles partners - through his active involvement in the Court Club in Colonie.


December 2015

Michael Haas, Los Angeles

Michael Haas, a long time handball player in Southern California, passed away on December 31, 2015. He had been battling AML cancer for eight months.   Michael was always a pleasure on the court. He was very agile, played hard and had an awesome ceiling shot. I played him twenty years ago at Supreme Courts in Van Nuys and most recently at Spectrum Club in Canoga Park. Michael didn’t play many tournaments but he won a few rounds in the USHA Nationals a couple years ago, I believe in the 70 “B” singles.  Michael was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1941. He was a hard working family man and a computer programmer. He would often pass up handball games to go square dancing with Barbara. Can you believe it? Michael is survived by his wife Barbara of 53 years. His two sons, Jeremy and Daniel, and granddaughter Emma.

Burton Mandel, St. Louis.

Burton Mandel died December 23, 2015. Beloved husband of Patricia A. Mandel for 31 years. Dear father of Neil (Jenny) Mandel, Todd Mandel and the late Michael Mandel. Dear step-father of Michael DeBlasi and Nicole Wagner. Loving grandfather of Joshua and Alexis Mandel, Aaron and Hailey Wagner. Dear brother of Stuart (Paula) Mandel and the late Alan Mandel. Beloved son of the late Mac and Charlotte Mandel. Our dear uncle, cousin and friend.  Burt loved the game and though not the best player, he had power and could hop the ball both ways.  In addition to playing, Mandel had a passion for recruiting and mentoring new players.  Burt especially enjoyed watching sons Neil and Todd play.  Whenever Neil asked his dad about heaven, Burt would respond: “Oh, you mean the big handball court in the sky.” 

November 2015

William (Bill) Barry, Jacksonville, Fla.

    Bill Barry (94), passed away peacefully after a short illness on Aug. 27, 2015 with his family by his side.  Barry was born in Pawtucket, RI and served as a Captain in WWII, stationed in Marseille, France, where he met and married his wife Suzette.  After the war, they moved back to Pawtucket where Barry earned his degree from Providence College.  He then moves his wife and family of four to Tampa, where he worked as a chemist at the US Phosphate Plant.  In 1959, he relocated to Jacksonville, where he started his career with the Internal Revenue Service, retiring in 1981.  
    Bill was a fierce competitor and avid handball player at the YMCA and prided himself in beating much younger players, well into his 80s.  He’ll be remembered as a very charitable, loving and kind man.

Father Bill Esposito, Syracuse, NY.

    Father Bill Esposito (82), was born in 1933 and ordained a priest in 1958.  A man among men, he listened, he helped, he cared and he always had time for anyone from any walk of life.  Bill was active in the community, ran in the Boston Marathon, skied, swam, loved golf, but as a fierce competitor he enjoyed handball and the close friends he developed as a result.  He had a great deal of influence on those he played with, including a cleaner vocabulary on his court of competition.   A staph infection took him but he will be missed and remembered for his highest of standards and dedication to his beliefs, family, church and life.   And his impact on handball in Syracuse will remain.



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