Paul Walter “Coach” Mandli

Portage/Racine/ Fitchburg
October 15th 1926 to August 5th, 2018

The final bell has rung and class is dismissed. But before I go, let me share some final thoughts with you.

My road started on a warm fall day in October of 1926.  It was a time and place where there was no normal.  My father Joseph was a wanderer and my mother Elizabeth was a saint.  Then Mother died and normalcy arrived in the form of an uncontrollable chaos.  Stability came from a mindset that we were a family of 13 children and our persistence to carry on was all that mattered.  But, it was from that uncertainty that we created a bond that held us together for almost a century.  I watched as 11 of my 12 brothers and sisters left this world before me, but now I have found peace with them leaving only brother Alex (Jean) behind to carry on.

At the age of 17, I decided to strike out on my own.  I left school early and joined the US Merchant Marine.  From there, right at the end of WWII, I was pulled into the US Navy.  I completed my military commitment as a member of the US Army.  When I got back home, my former principal talked me into returning to school to get my diploma.  I went on to complete my studies and graduated from Racine Park High School at the ripe old age of 20.  From there, I entered the University of Wisconsin Madison and became the first member of my family to get a degree.  That experience instilled in me a spark that fueled my career as an educator for the rest of my time on earth.  I practiced my craft on many levels and strived to be the best.  It allowed me to have an impact on the lives of many men and women, from the very young to the very old.

In 1948, I met a beautiful young woman who was a pitcher for the Racine Junior Belles of the All American Girls Baseball League.  She became the love of my life and on a very cold day in February of 1951, I married Rosemary Therese Bonnar. Although we began with little money, she provided me with a beautiful home and family.  I was the richest man on earth.

Although I taught thousands of different students over the years, my most rewarding challenge was being a parent to those 10 incredible children of ours.  They have made me so proud to be their father.  Mike (Jane), Pat (Lisa), Paula (Mike O’Malley), Daniel, Raymond (Tracie), Kevin (Julie), Kathleen (Merlin Ravndalen), Gerald (Karin), Sean, and Meaghan (Andy Perdue).  They have continued the family tree by bringing 28 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren into our lives.  Oh, I loved holding the babies.

If I can leave you with one thing as I end my time as your teacher, it is that the education process is never over and we are all a part of that journey.  We need to embrace each other and share our individual understanding and knowledge if we want to continue to grow as both individuals and a community.

I was blessed in many ways over my 91 years, a great career, a fabulous family, and a strong faith.  However, I can’t leave without thanking the many wonderful people who have come in and out of my life over the years.  Those who pulled me up when I was down, those who allowed me a chance to succeed, the individuals that provided me with friendship and a connection all the way to the end. The teachers, the athletes, the students and the neighbors.  I love you.  

Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Portage, WI at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 11, 2018 with Fr. Gary Krahenbuhl presiding.  Visitation will be at the church starting at 9:30 a.m.  Burial will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Portage. A gathering and meal will be held after the service.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Paul's name to the educational charity of your choice. The Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage is assisting the family.



For information please call 608 742-2126 (Portage, WI) or 608 635-2763 (Poynette, WI)