Fred Martinelli, Class of 1951

Posted Jun 02, 2021

Martinelli Fred Obit Pic2

Fred Martinelli ’51 died May 15, 2021. He was born on February 15, 1929, in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Concetti (Sichini) and Marion Martinelli. His father was an Italian immigrant who entered through Elis Island in 1926. Dr. Martinelli graduated from Westerville High School and Otterbein College, where he was in the Athletic Hall of Fame, “O” Club, Pi Beta Sigma (Pi Sig) fraternity, Otterbein King in 1948, and played football, basketball and baseball.

He received his M.A. in 1960 and PhD in 1968 from The Ohio State University. He was a history teacher-coach at Bellville High School from 1951-1956, and Bryan High School (Ohio) from 1956-1958. Fred was hired at Ashland College in 1959 where he served the institution for 39 years as professor, football coach, Athletic Director and Department Chair. He retired from coaching in 1993 and continued teaching until 1997.

As football coach at Ashland for 35 years (1959-1983), the Eagles compiled a record of 217 wins, 119 losses, and 12 ties. They won five Heartland Conference Championships, five Mid-Ohio Championships, and were undefeated in 1967 and 1972. The 1986 team was the first to be selected for NCAA Division II play. In this era, 72 players received All American recognition, eight received Academic All Americans, three received NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships, while two received National Football Foundation Scholarships. Bill Royce was the first player from Ashland in the GLIAC to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

In recent years, he was involved with others in the concept and fundraising for the Dwight Schar Athletic Complex. Facilities for football, soccer, and track are unparalleled by college division institutions. The football venue, Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field, provides the ultimate efficiency for players, coaches, fans and media. Fred was recognized by his peers in many aspects of his professional life. Among these were selection to the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame in 2002. This was one of eight such honors. He received six Lifetime Achievement Awards and was recognized by Ohio’s governors and legislature. He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Ashland where he served as an usher and trustee.

He is survived by his children, Thomas and his wife, Amy, Michael ’75 and his wife, Nedra, Peggi and Jeffrey; grandchildren, Jeffrey, Todd, Scott, and Kevin; and daughter-in-law, Kris. He was preceded in death by his wife Ruth ’52, daughter, Linda, and sister, Dora.