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Matthew J. 'Coach' Branski

January 29, 2020

Matthew J. 'Coach' BranskiMatthew J. “Coach” Branski, 84, passed away at his home in Watertown Wednesday morning, January 29, 2020, with his family at his side.

Matt was born in Rochester on September 27, 1935, son of Matthew T. and Marie L. Palmer Branski, where he graduated from Aquinas Academy. On August 9, 1958 he married Mary L. Burr in Webster.

He continued his education at Ithaca College; where he excelled at baseball, and upon graduation with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. After suffering an injury Matt pursued a teaching career, relocating to Northern New York.

Coach began his career in Lewis County, before settling as a Physical Education teacher for the Watertown City School District, from 1960 to 1995. Matt coached the Watertown Boys’ Lacrosse team from 1966 to 1988, retired, and stayed on as an assistant coach until 1992. Coach was also involved with Watertown’s football program throughout his years with the school district. He was well loved as a coach and mentor by many players; some of whom went on to pursue lacrosse careers in officiating, and coaching at both the high school and collegiate levels.

Matt was a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Basketball Officials Association, serving as a referee at the collegiate level. As a member of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO) he served as a basketball referee at the high school level, as well. For many years, Matt served as an assignor for both the Frontier League boys’ lacrosse and basketball programs. A pinnacle of Coach’s career came in 2002, when he was inducted into the Upstate New York Chapter of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Matt was a communicant of Holy Family Church. He was a member of the Sons of the American Legion Post 61, and a life member of the Watertown Elks Lodge 496, where he was elected Elk of the Year. He enjoyed being a member of the Shack Club, golfing, fishing, and especially spending time with his family and friends at the cottage in Duck Harbor.

Coach is survived by his three children and four grandchildren, Cynthia A. “Cindy” Branski Fusco and her three children, Maria, Michael, and Victoria, Chaumont, Michael E. (Kathleen B.) Branski and their daughter, Elizabeth, Black River, and Mark J. Branski and Pam Elliott, Chaumont; brother James (Sandra) Branski, Chaumont; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was predeceased by his wife Mary, June 20, 2016, his son Timothy J. Branski, October 17, 2019, and his brother, Thomas Branski.

A funeral mass will be celebrated on Saturday, February, 8, 2020, at Holy Family Church at 2:00 pm with Rev. John M. Demo, pastor, presiding. Burial will be in the spring in Brookside Cemetery. There are no calling hours and arrangements are entrusted with Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Watertown.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Northern New York Community Foundation, 131 Washington St., Watertown, NY 13601, and designated to establish the Coach Matthew J. Branski Scholarship Fund. Online condolences to his family may be posted at www.cummingsfuneral.com.


#69 Pam and Gerry Kostyk 2020-02-09 17:57
The Branski family so sorry about coach. I was a 1973 graduate of whs anybody that was in sports new coach Branski!

Special hugs to coach Jim braski and Sandy and family
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#68 Patty Dziuba 2020-02-08 10:26
I am heartbroken for all of you who are mourning his passing. He was the sweetest man and I will miss him dearly. Thoughts and prayers for all of his family and friends.
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#67 Terry Mckeever 2020-02-08 08:32
I played basketball in the 70s for Indian River Mr. Branski was one of my favorite referees when he refereed our games I felt the game was going to be refereed fairly his son Mike one of my best friends got me to referee high school sports Mr. Branski was a great person and will be missed
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#66 Gary Egeberg 2020-02-08 07:48
Coach Brankski as i will always remember him as, was a great teacher and mentor. Always had a positive influence on my life. He will be missed by all who knew him. Thanks Coach.
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#65 John Bocciolatt 2020-02-07 16:20
Shortly before Coached passed we reminisced that his first year to coach lax was my first year to play (1966). Coach could ball you out on the field and then laugh with you in the locker room minutes later. And then there were his sayings “goodbye Nelly Gray” when beaten by an offensive player. Coached named my 6’ long hickory defensive stick— “THE WAR CLUB”; “get that war club and clear out the crease”!!!. Coach was a powerful leader, and teacher who taught perseverance, diligence, compassion, and humor! His lessons helped form me as an adult and a couple of times save my life as a cop! Thank you COACH you’ll always be remembered!!! Class of 69.
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#64 Walt Hovendon 2020-02-06 08:46
Truly a great loss for Watertown and all the hearts "Coach" touched in his beautiful life. His ever present positive attitude made you feel alive and that anything was possible if you wanted it to be. God bless the Branski family in this difficult time.
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#63 DAVID E GARDNER 2020-02-06 08:28
My condolences to the entire Branski family. I have many fond memories of your dad at WHS. He always treated me with humor and respect. He was one of many coaches at WHS that were mentors for me as I began my coaching career there and cetainly one of those that I looked up to with high regard. May he rest in peace knowing that he touched so many lives in such positive ways.
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#62 Greg Hall 2020-02-05 18:57
Coach, we had some great battles in the central cities league. Our competition was fierce and we had you... a leader with a passion for the game that was unmatched... a leader who was intense but measured... a leader who pushed us to our absolute limits... I thank you for all that you did to prepare us to succeed at the next level. I was blessed to have you as a coach and you will be missed... keep a spot open for me on the defensive end of the field...!
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#61 Michelle Gleason 2020-02-04 19:31
Mike, Mark, Cindy and your families. I am very sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. I will miss seeing your Dad at the doctors office and in Duck Harbor.
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#60 Bernie Lawlee 2020-02-04 16:27
I got to know Matt while working at Grass Point State Park in the summer time,he worked the toll booth and I was a Lifeguard. I played LaCrosse for General Brown and we'd talk about some of the games. I could always count on him yelling at one of his defense men knock me out from in front of that crease. But he always had something good to say to me after the game. Always remembered me and spoke when ever I would run into him at games. He will be missed.
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