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William Robert "Bill" Sferra

September 6, 1937 ~ March 11, 2022 (age 84)

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Canfield - William Robert “Bill” Sferra, 84, died Friday, March 11, 2022 at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Boardman.

Bill was born in Youngstown on September 6, 1937, the 10th of 11 children to Stephen J. and Mary L. (Modarelli) Sferra. Bill was a 1956 graduate of Ursuline High School and a lifelong resident of the Youngstown area. 

Bill married Claire Figlia of Youngstown on October 8, 1960 at Immaculate Conception Church in Youngstown.  The two were married 49 years until her death in 2009. They raised two daughters, Linda and Lisa.

In the aftermath of that loss, Bill’s life was blessed with the love and companionship of Patti Edwards.

A local sports legend, Bill’s achievements began early in life. He competed on the Ursuline track and field squad and played guard on the football team. For a short time, he was a light heavyweight Golden Gloves boxer. 

Bill’s best athletic achievement took place on the softball field. He played for Costello’s Paints in the local Class AA Men’s Fast Pitch Softball League. A catcher, he began his softball career at age 16, posting a .300 career batting average. He led the league in hitting in 1958 with a .456 average, and played ten years in the league. Bill later became league director and then developed the Saturday Slo-Pitch league that would grow to over 30 teams.

Bill was recognized as one of only three area sports officials (out of 350) certified to officiate football, basketball and baseball.

He umpired ten O.H.S.A.A state girls’ softball finals and fifteen regional finals. Of his many football tournament assignments, he was selected to work two state semi-finals. His officatiating team was one of the area’s most respected and included Pat and Tony Montana and Jim Ferraro – who were among his closest friends on and off the field.

Bill was named the National Federation of High School Umpires Association “Umpire of the Year” in 1999 and the National Softball Association “Umpire of the Year” in 2004.

For nearly 30 years, Bill was also an assignor for the All American Conference football, baseball and softball contests, and for all Metro Athletic Conference softball, baseball, football and baseball games. 

In 2013, he was proud to be inducted into the Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame for his lifetime achievements as an athlete, administrator and advocate for local sports, leagues, athletes and officials. In his speech, he graciously credited his late wife Claire for her dedication and support in these accomplishments.

In 2014, Bill received the honor of having an annual tournament named after him, the annual Bill Sferra Softball Classic for Mahoning and Trumbull Fastpitch Senior all stars.

Bill was also a local steel industry legend. At age 39, Bill would win election to the highest office of the United Steelworkers Local Union 1418, representing more than 5,000 steelworkers. During this time, the Mahoning Valley was rocked by the September 19, 1977 announcement of mill closures, today remembered as Black Monday. 

On the 25th and 35th anniversaries of Black Monday, Bill organized reunions of steelworkers and community members to commemorate, reflect and learn from this moment in labor history.

In his personal life, Bill enjoyed nothing more than spending time with his family and close friends.

With so many siblings, they were always gathered together in someone’s home or a local restaurant celebrating birthdays. Extended family gatherings with siblings, cousins and many generations often numbered more than a hundred people.

At moments like these, big and small, his generous and comedic side shined as he made up funny awards to give to people, wrapped up countless gifts to distribute – pens, flashlights and trinkets – and made everyone laugh and feel special.

Bill was a devoted father. He and Claire participated in their daughter’s activities at St. Brendan School and coached their softball teams.  He also enthusiastically supported his grandchildren’s activities and sporting events. 

Bill and Claire’s home was always a warm, welcoming place for all. Friends and family alike never left without a meal, a gift and a laugh.

For decades, he met with buddies for breakfast– from the posse at Mitzi’s on Mahoning Avenue in the 1980s to the current breakfasts with his referee pals at the Landmark. 

He enjoyed visiting family and friends, always bringing a pizza plus plants and vegetables that he grew himself.  To the very end of his life, Bill kept the post office busy sending humorous notes as well as lovely gifts to the people he loved. 

Bill is survived by daughters Linda (Patrick) Files of Canfield, OH, Lisa (Mark) Morelli of Cuyahoga Falls, OH and companion Patti Edwards of Girard, OH.

Bill will be dearly missed by his four beloved grandchildren, Olivia Morelli, Julia Morelli, William Files and Dominic Files. Bill is also survived by his sister, Rosemary Sferra.  He also leaves many nieces and nephews.

Bill was preceded in death by his wife Claire, sisters Marguerite Nelson, Louise Leone, Virginia Klein, Mary Santon and brothers John, Robert, Joseph, James and Edward Sferra.

Family and friends may pay their respects on Thursday, March 17, 2022 from 10:30 am until 12:20 pm at St. Christine Church, 3165 S Schenley Ave., Youngstown where a Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 12:30 pm Father John Jerek as officiant.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the professional care of the Rossi & Santucci Funeral Home, 4221 Market St., Boardman.

Family and friends may visit to view this obituary or send condolences to Bill’s family.


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March 17, 2022

10:30 AM to 12:20 PM
St. Christine Church
3165 S. Schenley Ave.
Youngstown, OH 44511

Mass of Christian Burial
March 17, 2022

12:30 PM
St. Christine Church
3165 S. Schenley Ave.
Youngstown, OH 44511

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