South Plainfield High School
Class of 1963

(Last revised  July 21, 2012)


This page is provided to Class Members who may want to let everyone know what's going on in their lives. If you want to publish pictures or announcements here, just mail in your information to:

Georgia & Ernie Temple
411 May Avenue
South Plainfield, New Jersey 07080

  or e-mail them below with attachments.

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What's Happenin'?

      Here is some updated news from our classmates letting us know what's new with them these days. Read, enjoy and pass along your own pictures and activity descriptions to let us know "What's Happenin'?" with you!



July 21, 2012

Richard Paresso



     Ernie Temple has passed on to me that he received a message from Dom Paresso, the brother of our classmate, Rich Paresso, telling us that he died on March 14, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.


     At this time this is all the information we have and we are trying to get more. In the absence of an obituary, however, you might take a look at your yearbooks where you'll see under his picture that his goal in life was to be a "rogue" and his slogan was to "Live and have fun . . . then learn!" He played football and liked photography. Let us hope that he achieved his goals.





June 18, 2012

Coach Phil Graham

1919 - 2012

Dear Friends of Phillip Graham,


Coach Graham passed away on Sunday, Father's Day, June 17, 2012 at the age of 92.

Despite his poor physical condition and wheelchair bound the past two years, he continued to maintain a sharp mind and his customary bravado. World War II stories and tales of South Plainfield football were the daily norm. He stated on several occasions that his greatest triumph as an educator was the success many of his former students obtained, some who became coaches; "I didn't teach them, I learned from them." He outlived many of his peers. Several former SPHS track and football players were able to visit him during the past couple years which he truly enjoyed. He battled to the end and just was not ready to leave this earth. His two great grandchildren, both boys born January 2011, visited with their parents often and he wished he could see them grow. His departure leaves a large void in our small family.


A private family service will be conducted on June 25, 2012 at the Sarasota National Cemetery at 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, we are in the process of establishing a Coach Graham Scholarship at SPHS; details to be posted shortly. (See the section in RED below.)


Coach Graham is survived by his daughter, Charlotte Malko of Lakewood Ranch, FL; son Gary Graham, of St. Augustine, FL; granddaughter Kristin Durick of Lakewood Ranch, FL; grandson Kevin Malko of Sarasota, FL; and grandson Matthew Graham of Mesa, AZ.




Don and Charlotte Malko

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Don may be contacted directly at:


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Following is the obituary for Coach Graham:


Graham, Phillip (Oct 2, 1919 – June 17, 2012) 

Phillip (Coach) Graham, 92, of Sarasota, FL, formerly of Bridgewater, NJ, died on June 17, 2012.  Born in Wales, GB, he arrived in the U.S. at the age of 10.  He was a veteran of WWII serving in the Pacific.  Received both a Masters and Bachelor of Science from Seton Hall University (NJ). Head football coach at South Plainfield High School (NJ) and Wardlaw-Hartridge (Edison, NJ).  Athletic Director at Wardlaw-Hartridge.  Leaves children Charlotte (Don Malko),  Gary, grandchildren Kristin Durick (Jeff), Kevin Malko (LeeAnn), and great grand children Kyle Malko and Graham Durick. 


A scholarship is being established in lieu of flowers.  Donations to the Phil Graham Scholarship are being collected by Margie Reedy of the South Plainfield Education Foundation. For further details, you may contact Margie at: 1-908-561-5800, or e-mail at


Any checks for this scholarship should be made out and sent to:


     The South Plainfield Education Foundation

     P.O. Box 733

     South Plainfield, NJ 07080


Please write in the memo portion “Phillip Graham”  so we know where the money is to be sent.


If you want to check out the South Plainfield Education Foundation website, you may find it at:



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     We all knew it was coming and now it has: Coach Phil Graham passed away on Sunday, June 17, 2012, a victim of cancer. But he lived to the ripe old age of 92, and we should instead celebrate his life.

     Coach Graham has been featured a couple of times on this web site, including the article below from two months ago. I corresponded regularly with him and I have other articles in my possession which were sent to me over the years. One discussed his military career. I will not publish them here, but if anyone has an interest in reading them, I will gladly forward them on to you.

     We all knew Coach Graham in one capacity or another ranging from gym class, to health class, to driving class and of course from coaching. He founded the SPHS Track Team in our Sophomore year in 1960, coached the Football Team after Coach Cotoia relinquished the position in 1963, led the team to its first varsity victory over North Plainfield and coached the first undefeated football team.

     He was a man who spoke his mind, stood up for principles and, believe it or not, even rubbed some people the wrong way! To me, he was a friend who advised me not to cause so much political trouble in school and wrote me a letter of recommendation to college. I remember once during a track meet when I decided that I wanted throw the javelin. So he entered me in the event and when it was my time to throw, he stood out in the middle of the field and yelled: "Come on, Mark, try and hit me!!!" My throw fell quite short, and that was my last javelin event. But some facets of his approach to humor stick with me to this day. He was an influence in my life.

     My favorite picture of him was featured once before. It was taken on his 90th birthday:



     "The Incredible Bulk" was the title of the picture and I think it exhibits the spirit, humor and intensity of the man. I shall miss him. - Mark Baldwin 


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June 18, 2012 - Ernie Temple


I am sad to hear the news, but as you said, we all knew it was coming.  . . .  One of my favorite stories was when he started the first track team, I walked into his office with Carl Jess because we didn't know what events we wanted to get involved with.  He is sitting there reading a book on how to coach a track team.  He looks at Jess as says, "you run the low hurdles, your legs are too short to do anything else and Temple, you do the high jump."  I said "great, where's the pit."  He went over to the closet and pulled out a pitch fork and hands it to me and says, "wherever you want it kid......"  Jess and I spent the afternoon digging South Plainfield's first high jump pit.  We were two kids having a ball.  About a week later, Coach Harry Lambert comes out with an old mattress and says "Coach Graham said to give this to you guys."  Didn't get any better than that!


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June 18, 2012 - Tom & Carolyn (Bowden) Boyle


Thank you for letting us know about Coach Graham.  We are very saddened by this news.  We just had a message on our machine last night from a former classmate, Walter Weidemann, who had gone down to see Coach Graham.


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June 18, 2012 - Maryann (Klymshyn) Barrek


May he rest in peace.


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If you have any comments about Coach Graham, I shall pass them along as well to the class.



May 31, 2012

Reunion in the Park!

   Mike DeVito came to town from Tucson, Arizona, this bright and breezy last day of May to visit friends and family. In the process he met up with friends Bob Schell, Mark Baldwin, Georgia and Ernie Temple.


     Bob, Mark and Mike met for lunch at Sherban's Diner and spent two hours reminiscing about days past & catching up on current events. Later they were joined here in the picture by Georgia & Ernie Temple at Spring Lake Park. Mike will be in South Plainfield visiting with his brother & sister-in-law, Richard & Carol (Gorman) DeVito for another week before moving on to see relatives up in the Boston area. If you'd like to talk to him, give him a call at 1-908-754-8446.




April 29, 2012 -


Hey Coach . . .
How's It Going???


     Taking a long weekend from April 19th through April 23rd to attend a wedding in St. Petersburg, Florida, Mark Baldwin arranged to take a side trip south to visit Coach Phil Graham at his home in Sarasota.



      The two of us met for a two-and-a-half hour lunch along with Coach Graham's son-in-law, Don Malko, a former South Plainfield teacher himself. Showing that his sarcastic wit was still alive and active at age 92, as I walked into the room where he was sitting, Coach first looked at me with a confused look. Then he turned to Don and said: "Don . . . who's this fat guy? I thought you were bringing Mark Baldwin here?!"

     Starting off on that note, we tried to eat sandwiches, but found ourselves reminiscing about events - both current and past. I came to the meeting equipped with our Year Book and pictures from the Reunion Cruise showing former students as they appear today. My intent was to refresh his mind with the old pictures, but in fact he remembered nearly everyone and recalled events about each one from 50 years ago. He was very pleased to see the pictures of his "old" students!

     I also came bearing a "trophy" of sorts as a memorial to our effort in 1961 to form the first Track Squad at South Plainfield. I reminded him of how he and Harry Lambert lined out a track in lime back on the football practice field behind the school for us to run on. And how this upset the baseball coaches at the time! Also, how we used to have to jog the 2 or 3 miles from the high school to Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield to run around the gravel track surrounding the lake. This was the closest thing we could find to a realistic practice track in those days.

     In honor of these memories I personally went to both Cedar Brook Park and collected samples of the gravel (most of which is now under asphalt!) and to SPHS to collect turf samples (the area is now a parking area next to the new high school). I put both of these samples into bottles and attached them to a picture of our 1963 track squad with the title of: "No Blocks and No Track . . . But We Made Do!"




     We spoke of old times and he regularly interjected his own personal memories of times past. One I felt was particularly poignant concerning his approach to both coaching and teaching and related to sportsmanship. Coach Graham was actually an immigrant from Wales in Britain coming here at maybe 10 years of age. He was raised in Kearny, New Jersey.

      His father had done some boxing in his time and Coach Graham decided at one point that he wanted to try out for the Golden Gloves competition. To accomplish this, he started training at his church, thinking that he was doing it in secret. His father found out, however, because the entire church knew what he was doing! Just before his first fight, his father confronted him and asked him if he were really serious about going through with the fight. Coach Graham said "yes." His father then replied: "Well, if you are really going to do this, I want you to promise me one thing. If you go into that ring and get the shit beat out of you, I want you to be man enough at the end of the fight to go over to your opponent, shake his hand and congratulate him on a good fight." The fight ended up being Coach Graham's first and last fight!

     The lesson, of course, was "sportsmanship," and as one of his students, I can certainly credit him with always encouraging good sportsmanship and the integrity that it develops in a person.

     Coach Graham would LOVE to hear from anyone who would like to write to him, send pictures or whatever. His address is:


          Life Care Center of Sarasota

          Attn: COACH Phil Graham

          Room 113

          8104 N. Tuttle Avenue

          Sarasota, Florida 34243


     Make sure that you put the title "Coach" in front of his name! If you are ever in the area, of course, you are welcomed to visit. Sarasota is an hour south of St. Petersburg and an hour and a half south of Tampa on Florida's west coast. 


Mark Baldwin


- NOTE -

     Everyone likes to see what you are all doing these days. So if you have pictures of yourselves either with other classmates or just by yourselves, please pass them along to Georgia & Ernie or directly to me, The Webmeister (Mark Baldwin). (Ernie likes to edit things first, however, so I don't put my foot in my mouth!)


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