DePaul Athletics Loses Backstage Star - Joe Cesena
Sept. 22, 2010
CHICAGO - In the sports world, the spotlight is often only big enough to capture the stars. At DePaul, Coach Ray Meyer and his men's basketball players filled that spotlight in grand style.
Coach Ray and his standout players like Bato Govedarica and Ron Feiereisel captivated the Chicago sports landscape in the 1950s while others loyally toiled behind the scenes to help create the infrastructure that helped propel the Blue Demons to success.
Among those working behind the scenes was 1991 DePaul Hall of Famer Joseph Cesena. DePaul lost a model of sacrifice and loyalty this week with the passing of Cesena at age 81.
Cesena, a Chicago-native, began his involvement with DePaul as a manager in the early 1950s for some of the most prolific names in Blue Demon history. While Meyer, Govedarica and Feiereisel were capturing the headlines, he teamed with Hall of Fame athletic trainer Tom Monforti to provide structure for the Meyer teams of his era.
Not only did Cesena work as a manager, he excelled behind the camera as the chief cameraman for Coach Ray's teams for 30 years. Evidence of his sacrifice is the fact that Cesena never missed a game in that time span.
"Joe was such a quiet guy," Jim Marino, men's basketball letterwinner from 1971-74, said. "As a player, you barely knew he was around, but his film work was essential to our success. It gave Coach Ray a chance to thrive as a teacher."
Beyond fulfilling the function of providing tape of the games, Cesena's caring attitude and his loyalty to DePaul will be his legacy.
"Joe was a wonderful friend and supporter of Blue Demon Athletics." Director of Athletics Jean Lenti Ponsetto said. "He is the model of the hard work that needs to be done behind the scenes for our student-athletes and coaches to be successful."
"Joe was a true gentleman and a most loyal DePaul supporter." said Marino. "His work with Ray Meyer helped many DePaul teams to victory. His positive attitude and supportive gentleness had a lasting impression on many a DePaul student-athlete. It was an honor to know Joe."
In 1991, DePaul Athletics recognized his long record of service, commitment and loyalty with his induction into the DePaul University Athletic Hall of Fame and presentation of the Special Service Award.
"When I attended Joe's wake, true to his passion for his alma mater, his family had displayed his Hall of Fame plaque, framed memorabilia from his induction, images of him with Coach, and Coaches' book that featured the pictures that Joe had taken as a photographer," Ponsetto said. "His love for DePaul radiated to all those he touched."
Cesena may not have been in the bright light of the spotlight, but his love for DePaul radiated throughout his life.
Joseph B. Cesena
Joseph B. Cesena, age 81, of Chicago. Passed away Saturday September 18, 2010 at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago. Born in Chicago on Tuesday March 19, 1929 to Vincent and Mary (née Pianetto) Cesena. Mr. Cesena is a 1991 DePaul University Hall of Fame inductee. Devoted husband of the late Lucille née Alongi; beloved father of Maria (Chester) Klovas, Carla (Terry) Whitlock, Vincent (Holly) Cesena; loving grandfather of Joseph, Keith, Anthony and Olivia; dear brother of Sam (Linda) Cesena; fond uncle of many nieces and nephews.