Editorial: Orrie Jirele was an inspiration

Published 10:01 am Thursday, September 26, 2013

Albert Lea said goodbye to much-liked basketball coach, teacher and mentor Orrie Jirele.

While we were saddened to hear of his passing, we were also pleased to hear all the positive memories family and friends shared about him.

Jirele, 73, died Saturday of a heart attack while duck hunting along Pickerel Lake. Jirele, known as “Mr. Pacelli,” was the MVP of the 1958 Pacelli basketball state championship team, and he went on to play basketball at Division I St. Bonaventure University in Olean, N.Y., where he also earned a music scholarship. That team finished No. 2 in the country in 1961.

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After his playing days, Jirele continued to leave his stamp on the area as an educator and coach. He coached Pacelli’s freshman basketball team for a year, he coached Rochester Lourdes to three straight state titles from 1966 to 1968, and he coached for five years at East High in Green Bay, Wis., before moving to Albert Lea to coach in 1973, where he coached for 15 seasons and taught for almost 30 years.

After retirement, he worked as a substitute teacher and an instructor for Adult Basic Education. He is on the Wall of Inspiration at Albert Lea High School. He was a violin player, too, and played publicly at church recitals.

The Tribune remembers Jirele as a happy, positive role model for the community’s youth and a friend always willing to help out our reporters. Albert Lea will miss him.