Hyman I. Zolet, 77, longtime coach and athletic director at city schools

July 07, 2004|By Malena Amusa | Malena Amusa,SUN STAFF

Hyman I. "Hy" Zolet, a retired coach and high school athletic director, died of complications from Crohn's disease Monday at Sinai Hospital. The Randallstown resident was 77.

Born Hyman Zlotowicz, he attended Forest Park High School and was a star tackle on its football team.

He interrupted his schooling to enlist in the Coast Guard, but returned after 1 1/2 years and graduated in 1947. He received the McCormick Unsung Hero award for his performance on the football team and was named to the all-state team.

In 1951, he earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland and changed his last name to Zolet because it was easier to pronounce, family members said.

Mr. Zolet began teaching and coaching at Forest Park shortly after graduation. In the 1960s, he became athletic director at Forest Park and continued to coach the football, track and swim teams. In 1974, he was named athletic director at Patterson High School.

Friends say his love of sports came second to his dedication to helping young people realize their potential.

"He was an unselfish person who cared for the best interests of the scholastic athletes, more so than any personal gain," said Vince Bagli, a retired sports anchor for WBAL-TV.

As schools faced tough decisions regarding desegregation, Mr. Zolet confronted social changes with compassion and fairness, Mr. Bagli said.

"He was a good man who worked for the benefit of all kids of all races, creeds and colors," he said.

A former student said Mr. Zolet was the reason he went into teaching and coaching. "Hy was the ultimate role model," said Mark Schlenoff, who retired last week as athletic director at Polytechnic Institute.

As secretary of the old Maryland Scholastic Association in the 1980s, Mr. Zolet was a leading coordinator of the league that brought together more than 30 parochial, private and public schools.

"He guided young teachers and coaches," said Roger Wrenn, coach and athletic director at Patterson High. "A week never went by when we didn't ask ourselves how Hy would have handled a particular situation."

In 1990, Mr. Zolet retired and was inducted into the Maryland Athletic Directors Hall of Fame. He remained involved in sports, however, officiating at swim and track meets and volunteering during his free time.

The Baltimore Touchdown Club honored his lifetime achievement in school sports in 2000.

Mr. Zolet and his wife, the former Hulane Rosen, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last month.

Services will be held at 3 p.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Zolet is survived by two sons, David W. Zolet of Potomac and Morry A. Zolet of Owings Mills; a brother, Lee Zolet of West Palm Beach, Fla.; a sister, Lillian Zolet Chapnick of Jersey City, N.J.; and six grandchildren.

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