Eugene Sanborn, 75

Eugene Sanborn, 2010

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Eugene M. Sanborn, 75, a native Staten Islander and a stellar basketball player and committed coach who was widely respected and honored for his skills and achievements, and a man cherished by his family, died Wednesday in the retirement home he built in Carolina Shores, N.C.

Born and raised in Stapleton, he moved to Fort Wadsworth after he and Jean Cloke, who were teenage sweethearts, wed in St. Mary's R.C. Church, Rosebank. The couple lived there for 40 years, until relocating to to North Carolina.

Mr. Sanborn was a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service on the Island before going to work as a carpenter for John Rhatighan Home Improvements. He later was a self-employed carpenter until retiring in 2004.

A graduate of St. Peter's Boys High School, he played on the varsity baseball team, but it was on the basketball court that he starred. He was named a Staten Island Advance All-Star and was a Jaques Award nominee. After attending St. Peter's College, Jersey City, he continued to play hoops in the New Dorp Men's, Curtis Community, Berry Houses and South Beach Unlimited basketball leagues.

He shared his skills as head of St. Mary's Youth Activity Council, coaching basketball, softball and baseball. He also coached freshman boys' basketball at St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School, varsity girls' basketball at St. John Villa Academy, and was a founding member of the Staten Island Elementary School Basketball League.

Mr. Sanborn was honored for his volunteer work by the CYO in 1974 at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan. Later that year he was honored by the American Legion. In 1976, he was recognized by St. Mary's Parish, and in July 1981, Advance sportswriter Jerry Lee featured him in an Advance series about First Families of Staten Island Sports.

An avid golfer, he had twice made a hole in one. He was a devoted New York sports fan and rooted for the New York Knicks, football Giants, Mets and Rangers. He also was a talented artist and had painted water colors in his younger years.

The proud grandfather loved to play checkers and chess with his 28 grandchildren, and had passed on his competitive spirit to them and his children, family said.

A devout Catholic and man of deep faith, he was a parishioner of St. Mary's  Church while living on the Island and a parishioner of Our Lady Star of the Sea R.C. Church in Myrtle Beach, S.C., near his home.

Surviving Mr. Sanborn, along with Jean, his wife of 56 years, and his grandchildren, are his sons, Eugene, Michael and Christopher; his daughters, Susan Cannizzaro, Linda Colletti, Theresa Malandro and Jean Corbett; two brothers, Richard and Robert, and six great-grandchildren.

Personal note: When I came to Villa, Mr Sanborn was the coach. I knew him as a kind and gentle man who taught me the game of basketball. It was only years later that I learned of the basketball player Gene Sanborn. Of all the coaches I had, I often thought of him the most as I grew older.  I was very sad to hear of his passing. ​Mr. Sanborn was the best! RIP (ES 87)

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