IN MEMORIAM: New Jersey Chapter Loses Four of Its Own
The following article appears in the 2022 Banquet Program:
Four memorable members of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame passed away this year.
Len Zanowicz, a 2011 inductee, died on Aug. 2. He was 92. Sam Coursen, a 2001 inductee, died July 12 at age 91. Louis P. Jasmine, a 2016 inductee, passed away May 8 at age 89. All were inducted for Lifetime Service. Ron Fox, a 2012 inductee as a writer, passed last October. He was 79.
Born in Nanticoke, Pa., Zanowicz began his teaching and coaching career at Vineland High School in New Jersey. Soon after he was hired to teach and coach at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, where he started the program as a club team.
His first varsity team was in 1957-58, but soon after he switched to coaching baseball and football before returning to the mats in 1973. In nine years as football coach he went 41-34-5.
In 20 seasons as wrestling coach he compiled a 201-77-4 record, during which time his teams won four Watchung Conference championships and four District titles. He coached 21 Union County championship wrestlers, 43 district champions, 10 regional champs and sent 20 wrestlers to states. Three times he was a District Coach of the Year.
He also was President of the Union County Coaches Association.
A charter member of the New Jersey Wrestling Officials Association, he officiated for 10 years and would be secretary/treasurer for the organization. In 1995 he was inducted into the New Jersey Coaches Hall of Fame.
Following graduation from Nanicoke High School, Zanowicz enlisted in the Army, where he served in Ordnance Departments at both the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and Fort. Benning, GA.
He went on to graduate from Mansfield State where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics, and was co-captain of its football team. For years he held the school record for the longest touchdown return of an interception (85 yards).
He leaves behind his wife Bertha, five children and 10 grandchildren.
Coursen's success in the sport began in Stroudsburg, PA, where at Forty Four High School he won four Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District II titles and appeared in the PIAA finals all four years. He is the only wrestler in Wyoming Valley history to win every dual meet all four years.
Attending Springfield (MA) College he won the New England Championships four times, and in 1952 qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team that competed in Helsinki, Finland.
His Collingswood High School teams compiled a record of 126-47-7, going undefeated four years, winning eight conference titles and six district championships.
For more than a decade he served on the coaches executive committee, was co-founder and first chairman of the Region 7 and 8 Coaches and Officials Association, and served as chairman of the South Jersey Hall of Fame.
He also assisted in founding the Pocono Sports Camp (Marshalls Creek, PA) which ran for several decades.
Survived by his wife Suzanne, he also leaves behind eight children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A life-long resident of Lodi, Jasmine was a retired Lieutenant in the New Jersey State Police and a Chief Polygraphist for many years.
Lou wrestled four years at Lodi High School, going undefeated his senior year in 1950. In 1961 he placed second in the National AAU Tournament. Lou went on to be a volunteer wrestling coach for 10 years at Lodi before becoming a long-time official, going on to be President of the Northeast Chapter 25 years.
Officiating 23 districts, 23 regional and 22 state tournaments, in 2007 he was awarded the prestigious “Mirshak Award.” For 23 years he was Chief Official for the Bergen County Coaches Holiday Tournament.
He is survived by his wife Rose and their three sons.
Fox wrote about wrestling on the high school, college and international level, as well as having a book published in 1986 titled Wrestling Basics. He wrote for newspapers nearly 35 years, primarily for the Bergen Record in Hackensack.
He served on the NJSIAA Executive Committee for wrestling 15 years and was on the Nominating Committee for the New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame for 10 years.
In 1991 he became the first writer to be inducted into the Region 2 and Region 4 Wrestling Hall of Fame. Fox also received the William Powley Service Award from the Bergen County Coaches Association.
A graduate of Clifton High School, Fox went on to the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Drafted in 1964, Fox served as an Army Medical Corpsman, Specialist, 4th class, from 1964-66, both with the 418th Medical Co. at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas and Fort Bliss in Texas. At the 106th General Hospital in Yokohama, Japan, he worked in an Army hospital where evaluated wounded military from the Vietnam War were treated.
He is survived by his wife Denise and their son Graham of Hawthorne.
Written By Paul Franklin, NJ-NWHOF Board Member