Chuck Cuba and staff

New Castle High's coaching staff in the Midwestern Athletic and WPIAL championship season of 1975. From left are Chuck Cuba, Ron Plano, Bill Denny, Herm Serignese, Jake Gray and head coach Lindy Lauro. 

Lawrence County bid farewell to one of its favorite sons last week.

Chuck Cuba died Aug. 19 at the age of 84 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He had relocated there from New Castle four years ago to be near his sons, Pat and Terry.

Cuba spent more than 60 years as a beloved teacher, player, coach and football and basketball official in the county.

The condolences and accolades began pouring in as news of his death spread.

Social media was overflowing with praise for a man who changed many lives with his contributions in the classroom, on local ballfields and in the officiating ranks.

He was a favorite social studies and history teacher at New Castle High for many years and joined legendary coach Lindy Lauro’s staff, serving as defensive coordinator during a time when the Red Hurricane was the toast of high school football in western Pennsylvania.

He had the chance to coach Pat and Terry at New Castle, which he listed as one of his most treasured roles in life.

Fiercely proud of graduating from Virginia Tech University, he became a treasured alumnus and had the ear of the athletic department for many years after he graduated. He recommended the recruitment of New Castle stars Rick Razzano, John Latina and Nick Rapone and the three became a part of Virginia Tech football lore. Razzano landed in the NFL and Latina and Rapone became two of the most tenured football coaches in the college ranks, with Rapone currently with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While Razzano, Latina and Rapone were perhaps his most well-known successes, there were so many more. He impacted the lives of hundreds of students, players, coaches and up-and-coming officials. It was an honor to serve on his football officiating crew nicknamed, “Cuba’s Crew.” An admitted perfectionist, he always had time for someone wanting to learn.

As those who have memorialized him in recent days have said, he could be stern when he needed to be. He always was ready to mentor, but his standards were high and he expected the standards of those around him to follow suit.

He also was known for his soft spot. His beloved dog, Mugsy, was the mascot for the New Castle High baseball team when Cuba served as head coach in the 1980s. Mugsy would sit with Cuba’s wife, Jewell, in the stands, eyes constantly trained on his master. All it took was one look from Cuba between innings and Mugsy would wag his tail until it looked like it might fall off.

Cuba got the chance to visit Notre Dame and Duke when Latina coached there and Latina said it was one of the thrills of a lifetime when Cuba reached up to touch the iconic, “Play Like a Champion Today” sign going into the Irish locker room.

Those he left behind are saddened at the loss, yet appreciative that this treasure of a man touched their lives.

We salute the memory of Chuck Cuba and a life well lived.

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