Dr. Raymond Bernabei

Published on September 28, 2009

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Dr. Ray Bernabei, 1925-2008
Dr. Ray Bernabei, 1925-2008

Dr. Raymond Bernabei, born November 26, 1925 in Indianola, Pa was called home on September 5, 2008 to join his wife Rosella who passed away in December, 2005. Prior to his death, he resided in Longwood, FL.

A long time soccer advocate, Dr. Bernabei was recently recognized by the National Association of Sports Officials as one of the fifty most influential persons in sports officiating. Dr. Bernabei began his soccer career as a youth player with the Indianola Indians and was coached by his father, Leo. In 1947, he joined the semi-professional Harmarville Hurricanes as a fullback and served as the team captain. He remained with this championship team until his retirement in 1963. During this time the team won the prestigious U.S. Open Cup twice and finished as a runner up in both the Amateur Cup and the U.S. Open Cup.

Dr. Bernabei served as a collegiate and professional soccer referee for forty years. He was one of the founding fathers of the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA). He served as president of the organization and was later appointed the first Executive Director, a position he held to his passing. Under his leadership NISOA grew to over 5,000 members with at least one chapter in every state. The long range planning program that Dr. Bernabei continued to use and his vision is what makes NISOA the highly professional organization of today. He initiated the International Exchange Program with Russia, Ghana, Italy, and China. Dr. Bernabei created the National Training Academy at Elizabethtown College which continues each year to train high school and college referees. Under his leadership the Foundation Fund was initiated to help defray the costs of campers attending the Academy through a scholarship program.

Dr. Bernabei received numerous awards as both a player and referee. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame as a player and later into the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association’s portion of the National Soccer Hall of Fame as a referee and administrator. He was a past president of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and help formulate that organization into what it is today. The name Raymond Bernabei is respected throughout the entire United States soccer community and his contributions and legacy will continue on.

Listed in Who’s Who in American Education, Dr. Bernabei had a distinguished career in as an educator and administrator. He began his undergraduate work in 1943 at Indian State Teachers College, PA. His studies were interrupted in June 1944 when he was called to serve our Country in the United States Air Force. In November, 1945, he was discharged and returned to school, even though the semester was almost half over. He completed the requirements for a Bachelor of Science Degree with an emphasis in mathematics in two years and nine months – a long standing record at the college. He attended the University of Pittsburgh and earned a Master’s Degree. After teaching, coaching basketball, soccer and football, he recognized a need for additional education and completed his doctoral work in 1966 at the Western Reserve University in Ohio. As a member of the American Association of School Administrators he traveled to Greece, Italy, Columbia, Bolivia, Mexico, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Taiwan, India, Philippines, 36 states and multiple university and colleges where he conducted various workshops on education methodology.

Dr. Bernabei always stated that “family is first.” He practiced what he said by loving his wife of over 60 years, Rosella; their five children – Ray Lee, Rosemary, Al, Leo, and Lori. He also had eleven grandchildren and one great grand child. He was proud of each and everyone of their accomplishments to date. Dr Bernabei will always be known as husband, father, teacher, athlete, scholar, author and the father of NISOA. As he always said “just remember…. You only get one chance – live your life to the fullest.”

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