Frank Robert Ortolani, father, husband, and longtime faculty member and coach at Coffeyville Community College, passed away on November 28, 2021. He was 82.
Thousands of students in southeast Kansas and across the nation recall Mr. Ortolani and his ability to bring the study of U.S. and world history to life through vivid description, innovative instruction methods, and live re-enactments.
A visitation will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2, and a service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, at Ford-Wulf-Bruns Chapel, 2405 Woodland Ave. in Coffeyville, followed by burial at 2:30 p.m. at the Fort Scott National Cemetery, 900 E. National Ave. in Fort Scott, Kan.
Frank is survived by his wife Rita and son Christopher, both of Independence. He is also survived by his son Scott Ortolani, his wife Jeni and daughter Tana, of West Richland, Wash., and his son Brent Ortolani and his husband Steve Aberson, of Tulsa, Okla. His daughter, Shelly Ortolani, passed away in 1996.
He was born on August 3, 1939, in Huntington, N.Y., outside of New York City, to Alfred and Louise Ortolani. He had six siblings, including Emil Ortolani of White Stone, Va., and the former Alfred Ortolani Jr. of Pittsburg, Kan. Other deceased siblings included Tommy, Walter, Louise, and Arthur. He had numerous nieces and nephews, many of whom live in the Pittsburg, Kan., area.
As a young man, Frank moved to Pittsburg in 1958 to pursue a college education and play football at Kansas State Teacher’s College, now Pittsburg State University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and achieved numerous accolades on the playing field.
He married Sara Jayne (Holliday) Ortolani in 1962 and served in the U.S. Army through 1963, achieving the rank of Second Lieutenant. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve – Kansas National Guard for much of his life, retiring as Captain in 1999.
His career at CCC included a popular Civil War seminar, in which students traveled to battle sites across the nation for live, on-site lectures and re-enactments. Students learned about battles on the fields where they occurred, often sleeping in tents and eating food of the period.
Frank also served as an assistant football coach (defensive coordinator) for the Red Ravens for many years, and was head coach of the Raven golf team, which earned several league championships and a national title.
CCC academics and athletics were very important to Frank, and he was committed to “Once a Raven, always a Raven.”
Although he was a second-generation Italian American and New Yorker at heart, he fell in love with Kansas and its people and enjoyed living a small-town life. He provided lessons to several generations of aspiring golfers, served as a trainer for many aspiring athletes, and worked part-time at the Midland Theater.
He also earned several championship medals in weightlifting, most recently on a senior circuit in Kansas and Missouri.
He married the love of his life, Rita Ortolani, on Nov. 15, 1996. His greatest joy later in life was spending quality time Rita and their son Christopher, 18, who graduated from Independence High School earlier this year.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Frank’s memory may be made to the CCC Foundation, 400 W. 11st St., Coffeyville, Kan., 67337, or Midland Theater Foundation, P.O. Box 545, Coffeyville, Kan., 67337, or at www.historicmidlandtheater.com.
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