There are many people whose contributions to Ocean City sports were significant. Dick Galante, who died this weekend at age 87, was one of them.
A three-sport athlete at Ocean City High School, Galante served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War before returning to the resort. He was wasn’t finished competing, though, and joined with other local men to form a team, sponsor by Jean Campbell’s Chatterbox Restaurant. Galante, No. 11 in the middle of the first row in the photo below, is joined (from left) Ed Keenan, Tom Swayne, Joe Avis and Tom Ang. Standing are player-coach Joe DiOrio, Paul Miller, Charlie Bringhurst, Paul Becotte, John Costello and manager Len Foglio.
Galante also joined with Joe DeFranco Nick Palermo and a group of other veterans to create a basketball program – The VFW League – that helped provide the basketball program at OCHS with players experienced in the fundamentals.
Years ago, in a story about the league, Galante spoke about it.
“We had some great guys who gave their time as coaches and referees,” Galante said. “Guys like Jimmy Pessolano, Bill Nickles, Dick Grimes, Tommy Swayne, Frank Pileggi, Charles Bringhurst and Joe DiOrio. There were many other members who helped make the league successful.”
In addition to the weekly league games, the VFW League created more opportunities. There were games against teams from Atlantic City and other area communities. There were all star teams that traveled to Bayonne for tournaments.
At the time, Ocean City had no school basketball teams below the ninth grade. And there were limits on the recreation programs, which were not nearly as diverse as they are today. The VFW League filled a gap. It gave young boys a chance to experience competitive basketball in a structured environment with coaches and referees who played the game themselves and were happy to pass along what they had learned.
Through the years there have been many groups and individuals who have given of their time and talents to make Ocean City a better place.
Galante and the men of the Ocean City VFW Post in the 1950s and 1960s deserve thanks for what they accomplished six decades ago.
Galante’s contributions reached even further.
His son, Tony, was a successful athlete and coach at Ocean City High School. And, when Tony married Janet DiOrio, it brought the DNA of those two strong families together. Among the results were Joe and Mike Galante, two of the finest wrestlers from Ocean City.
Dick Galante’s daughter, Lori, also made good use of those genes. She married former OCHS athlete Randy Smith and their son and daughter contributed both athletically and musically at Mainland Regional High School.
Ocean City has been fortunate that so many people have made special contributions to its sports community. Dick Galante was right at the top of that list, both for what he offered personally and for the ongoing contributions of his family.