Bill Bruno, a well-known and respected coach and athletics administrator in New Jersey, has died at the age of 68.
Bruno, a resident of Howell, died on June 19 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune, according to an obituary published by the Buckley Funeral Home, Asbury Park.
Bruno had deep ties to Monmouth County. His father, Butch Bruno, was a legendary football coach at Asbury Park High School.
Bruno was a 1971 graduate of Christian Brothers Academy (CBA), Lincroft, and later taught and coached at the school.
He also taught and coached at Manalapan High School in the Freehold Regional High School District and eventually served on the FRHSD Board of Education. He is the brother of the board’s current president, Peter Bruno.
Bruno’s most recent position was as an administrator at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA).
Tributes to Bruno have been offered by many people who knew him, including Charles Sampson, the superintendent of the Freehold Regional High School District, who said, “Bill Bruno was a great man, someone who was always trying to make the world a better place for others. He was on the Board of Education that hired me and went out of his way to support me over the past decade.
“Bill never stopped making sure I felt supported, which is how he was with everyone he knew. He contributed so much to the Freehold Regional, from his days as a teacher, coach and supervisor of extracurricular activities at various FRHSD schools to his term on the Board of Education (2009-15). Bill will always be remembered for all he has done for students and athletes across New Jersey,” Sampson said.
Brother Frank Byrne, the president of CBA, said, “Christian Brothers Academy is saddened by the loss of Bill Bruno. Bill was a proud alumnus of CBA, graduating in 1971. Last month Bill was back on campus for graduation where he and his class were honored for their 50th anniversary.
“Bill came back to CBA as a teacher and a coach. He always made a positive impact on his students and his colleagues. Bill dedicated his life to teaching and coaching, and he will be fondly remembered by many,” Byrne said.
Dennis D’Andrea, a legendary high school wrestling coach in New Jersey, taught and coached with Bruno at Manalapan High School.
In a tribute he posted online, D’Andrea said he met Bruno in the fall of 1971 at Glassboro State College when he was a senior and Bruno was a freshman.
“We became friends and talked all kinds of sports. I graduated in the spring (of 1972) and that was the end of our friendship. Or was it? Fast forward to 1976. It is Sept. 1, the first day of practice for fall sports. I’m out on the football practice field and some dude comes running, like an antelope!
“He yells, ‘I’m coaching with you guys!’ I look at him and say, ‘Where the hell do I know you from?’ He says, ‘Are you Denny from Glassboro?’ I said, ‘Are you Billy Bruno?’ Well, as the saying goes, ‘The rest is history.’
“We shared many, many times together over the years. Billy was all over the map. I admired his work ethic. Everywhere he went to coach, no matter the sport, his teams were always championship ready.
“Finally we both concluded our ‘education careers’ in Brick Township. What a long strange trip it’s been. Until we meet again, Mr. Bill, keep a seat ready for me. I love you brother,” D’Andrea wrote.
According to Bruno’s obituary, he graduated from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) before pursuing his master’s degree at Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey). His career as a teacher, coach and athletic administrator spanned the years from 1976 to 2021.
Bruno was a teacher at Manalapan High School, Christian Brothers Academy, Asbury Park High School and Pinelands Regional High School.
He coached football at Manalapan and Pinelands; he was a winter and spring assistant track coach at CBA; and later the head track and field coach at Manalapan, CBA and Pinelands.
Bruno became an athletic administrator at Marlboro High School (1999 to 2002); Howell High School (02-03); Brick and Brick Memorial high schools (03-12); and then at Brick Memorial (12-15).
According to his obituary, Bruno introduced and promoted six Special Olympics wheelchair events to the spring New Jersey Track and Field Meet of Champions.
In August 2015, Bruno was appointed as an assistant director at the NJSIAA and was tasked with overseeing the state’s cross country, winter and spring track seasons, and was the meet director for each sports championship.
He led NJSCA coaches clinics and Hall of Fame luncheons. He was a representative, member, director, presenter, instructor and mentor for numerous programs in the state. In addition, Bruno proposed and secured approval for girls wrestling in New Jersey.
Bruno is survived by his wife, Dr. Jeannette Bruno; his sons, Kyle and Eric Bruno, his stepsons, Cole and C.J. Cameron and his spouse Alicia; granddaughter, Brielle; and his siblings, Peter, Jimmy, Kathy Celli and Mary Pat Napolitano. He was predeceased by his mother, Patricia, and father, Butch Bruno, according to his obituary.