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Howard Ranger Ranzer
1946 - 2005

"A bright eye and a sunny smile"

Remembered by Amy Ranzer Einziger:

Howie was my cousin. He was the happiest person I ever knew, and his optimism was contagious. He loved kids and not only taught for many years, but also coached soccer. He left behind a beautiful wife and two great children. He touched so many lives and will be remembered by all who knew him.

Remembered by Peter J. Sartorius:

I was stunned and saddened to learn of Howie's death while attending our 50 year high school reunion last fall. In fact, I was anticipating seeing him there. Howie and I were very close friends, perhaps best friends, throughout elementary, junior high and high school. We played every kind of sand lot ball together, along with the other kids who lived on Pelham Rd. Howie called me for the 25 year reunion, but I was unable to make it then. I half expected him to call me for the 50th. Now, I understand why I didn't hear from him. I'm sorry I didn't know of Howie's death when it happened. Learning of it just recently has brought it to my present and I'm very sad about not being able to see him again.

My sincere condolences to the Ranger/Ranzer family. Peter.

Remembered by Marvin Robbins:

I sadly saw Howie's name on our Memorial listing, and then found an article commenting on his passing. May he Rest In Peace.

Newtown coach Ranzer always made impression
Newsday: November 15, 2005
By Tara Krieger, Staff Writer

PSAL boys soccer commissioner Will Stasiuk remembers vividly the day he first met Howard Ranzer, at the mandatory preseason coaches' meeting in the fall of 1994. Stasiuk was 25 at the time, and in his first year at the helm for Richmond Hill. "The commissioner and all the league officials were there. And there was this big bear of a coach standing up and interrupting the meeting," Stasiuk said. "I said to myself, 'Who is this nut job?'"

The fiery, yet friendly Ranzer, who succumbed to cancer last Thursday at 59, could command that sort of authority. As head coach at Newtown from 1979-2003, he cultivated one of the most successful boys soccer programs in PSAL history, compiling more than 300 wins and seven championships in 10 trips to the A division finals (1982, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1999). Before Martin Luther King began its string of titles in 1996, no PSAL team was more dominant than Ranzer's Newtown Pioneers.

"You either loved him or you hated him - most people really loved him," said current Newtown coach Eric Wozniak, who took over in the fall of 2004, after Ranzer was diagnosed that spring. "He was a cartoon character. Like Norm coming into Cheers - 'Here comes Howie Ranzer.' Wozniak would call Ranzer every week to keep him updated on the team's progress, though Ranzer, who checked the PSAL Web site daily, often "knew a lot of stuff before I even got to him."

Ranzer was wholeheartedly devoted to everything in which he took part. As a special education teacher for three decades before his 2003 retirement, he instituted a work-study program that spread throughout Queens in the 1980's, in which a student would earn class credit for a part-time job. He also spent a few seasons coaching boys tennis at August Martin. But soccer was his passion.

"He was a very dedicated coach, an aggressive coach, always yelling and screaming to coaches and officials," said Newtown girls basketball coach Bob Kunkel. "[But] a teddy bear off the field."

"I will fight everything if I think I'm right," Ranzer once said. And fight he often did. He openly decried the alleged recruiting tactics of MLK coach Marty Jacobson, even making an appearance on "60 Minutes II" in 1999. "He played men against boys," Ranzer told the interviewer.

In one of his most memorable actions, he was the driving force behind a 1994 lawsuit against the PSAL and Board of Education, after Newtown had its entire season suspended because of a 1993 incident during which a player cursed and spat at a referee, instigating a brawl. He even staged a rally that Halloween in front of the Board of Education building to garner support. "Win or lose, the kids are a winner," he told the crowd. Newtown eventually got its season back, but was barred from the playoffs that year when the decision was appealed. Ranzer dedicated Newtown's 1995 championship to all the graduates from the previous season who were denied the opportunity to participate.

Above all, though, Ranzer was focused on his players. "I treat them like my own kids," he said in 1998. "He always got his kids into college," said former Newtown AD Eric Levitan. "He saw the larger picture - that losing a soccer championship was not the end-all of his life."

At his funeral, a dozen former players were honorary pallbearers; one even spoke.

"I hope they never forget me," Ranzer said after Newtown won its 1999 title.

They haven't. And they won't.

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