Cover photo for Frank Frederick Navarro's Obituary
Frank Frederick Navarro Profile Photo
1930 Frank 2021

Frank Frederick Navarro

February 16, 1930 — May 30, 2021

Frank F. Navarro, an accomplished football player, innovative college head coach, and dedicated family man, passed peacefully at home on May 30, 2021, at the age of 91.

He leaves a legacy of professional and personal success, reflected in university accolades awarded throughout his career, as well as a treasured family with beloved wife Jill that embraced seven sons and a daughter, 22 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Born in 1930, Mr. Navarro's nine-decade journey was rarely assured, starting with his youth in White Plains, NY. A determined mother, Anna Longo Navarro, raised him and younger sister Joan Cardinale on a limited income. He later shared stories of catching the train into the Bronx and squeezing thru the turnstiles with a paying fan to cheer on his beloved Yankees.

A prep football standout for Coach Glenn Loucks at White Plains High and a three-sport letterman, Mr. Navarro would compete as an offensive lineman for the undefeated 1951 University of Maryland National Champions. That team crowned its title under Jim Tatum by conquering Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day, 1952.

It was in College Park where he was introduced to the love of his life, Jill, to whom he forever attributed his future acclaim. On the couple's first date, Jill impressed Frank with her mother's famous Maryland fried chicken. Frank knew he was smitten.

After serving as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force, Mr. Navarro found his vocation in 1955 as a college football coach. First, as an assistant for the legendary Lou Little at Ivy League member Columbia University. Navarro was soon courted by the prestigious Williams College in 1963. At Williams, he rose in an 11-year tenure from assistant to Head Coach of the Ephs.

In 1967, his Williams Ephmen offered an unbeaten campaign, highlighted by a still-treasured victory over rival Amherst College.

It was also on this Western Massachusetts campus that he caught the eye of artist Norman Rockwell, who lived nearby in Stockbridge. Rockwell highlighted Coach Navarro and his powerful square jaw on his famed work, "The Recruit."

Returning to Ivy League Columbia University, now as a Head Coach, Navarro led the 1971 Lions to the school's first winning season in eight years and was named the Eastern College Coach of the Year. Following Coach Navarro's departure two years later, Columbia would play 23 more seasons before equaling his 1971 squad's six victories.

Heading west to Wabash College, his four-year tenure was topped by an 11-victory run in 1977 that led to a National Championship game. That campaign so endeared Coach Navarro to the institution that the Indiana school will dedicate Frank Navarro Field this autumn as a new stadium is opened.

A seven-year appointment at Princeton University awaited, beginning in 1978. It featured a dramatic 35-31 victory over then powerhouse Yale in 1981.

Coach Navarro concluded his 30 year on-field career in 1985, having influenced the lives of hundreds of young athletes, instilling ambition and character, graced by values of hard work, humility and respect. He was a mentor to many, having forged relationships that extended throughout his lifetime.

Upon retirement, Rhode Island became their full-time home. It had always been a special place for the family, full of fond memories of nearly 30 summers spent in a beach community together.

Coach Navarro maintained his connection to New England football as an insightful and familiar radio commentator for the University of Massachusetts and the University of Rhode Island.

He enjoyed playing competitive tennis matches and friendly card games while relishing the youth sports of his grandchildren. His coaching mentality never subsided. Through his wonderful storytelling and careful attention, he instilled in those closest to him the importance of character and the value of hard work.

He took particular pride in Navarro family achievements. Among its accomplished members is a critical care nurse, an Army Ranger, a collegiate tennis National Singles Champion, teachers, engineers, a television producer, philanthropists, investors, a musician, a photographer, and a spectrum of other leadership and service professions.

An avid reader and engaging conversationalist throughout a life fully led, Frank Navarro will be missed by many. He will be remembered for his wisdom, humor, leadership, and integrity, all present while endeavoring to enable everyone around him to reach their potential.

A funeral mass will be held at 10am on Friday, June 4th at St. Patrick's Church in Mystic followed by a private burial service.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Meeting Street Schools www.meetingstreetschools.com

Nikki Dickens, Meeting Street Schools, 200 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401

An online guest book is also available thru https://www.mysticfuneralhome.com/obituary/frank-navarro
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Frank Frederick Navarro, please visit our flower store.

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Friday, June 4, 2021

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