Wakefield, MA–Its with great sadness that the Wakefield Warrior Club announces the passing of Peter Gonnella, 48 of Harwich, Massachusetts. Our thoughts go out to the entire Gonnella Family.
Pete lost his courageous battle with pancreatic cancer on May 10, surrounded by family at the MacCarthy Care Center in Sandwich, MA. Born on August 6, 1963, Peter was a 1981 graduate of Wakefield High School. A standout in basketball, he was an All Scholastic athlete and two time Middlesex League All star and was recently inducted into the Wakefield Athletic Hall of Fame. Under the legendary Head Coach Sonny Lane, Peter was one of the top five highest scorers at that time and his record still stands for most points scored in a quarter.
In college, Peter continued to play basketball for some of the best coaches in the country, including Coach Kevin O’Neill, currently of the University of Southern California and Tom Thibideau, currently of the Chicago Bulls. Peter went on to graduate from the University of Mississippi in 1995.
Peter’s love of sports led him to a career of teaching physical education and coaching a variety of different sports. He first started teaching at Northeast Vocational Technical High School in Wakefield, MA and went on to teach at Harwich High School, Harwich Middle School, DY Regional High School and most recently, Everett High School. Students will always remember his ability to communicate, listen and inspire everyone to push themselves further and to believe in themselves. In addition to teaching, Peter coached many sports including football, lacrosse, tennis, baseball and especially basketball. As a basketball coach at Northeast, he led his team to a Commonwealth Athletic Conference championship, the first time in eleven years. He went on to win it again two years later. Because of his accomplishments, he was voted Coach of the Year twice by the Commonwealth Conference. Most recently, Peter was the head coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team at Harwich High School, where he led his team to the Division 4 Sectionals two years in a row.
Peter’s enthusiasm for sports and teaching was contagious and he touched the lives of hundreds of students across the state. Peter is survived by his loving wife, Kerry (Almeida) Gonnella and their four children; Angela, Cameron, Francesca and Joseph of Harwich. He is the son of Barbara (Palermo) Gonnella of Wakefield, MA, and Tony Gonnella and his wife Jeannine of Apex, NC. In addition, Peter leaves behind brother’s Michael, Mark and wife Shelly, John and Paul. Peter comes from a devoted family with many uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and cousins, along with his extended Farese family in Mississippi, all of whom stood by him throughout his illness. He did NOT fight alone.
His wake will be held at the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave in Wakefield on Tuesday, May 15 from 3-8 PM. A funeral mass will be celebrated at St. Joseph’s Church, 173 Albion St. in Wakefield on Wednesday, May 16 at 10:00 AM and a grave side burial will be held at Evergreen Cemetery on 40 Cemetary Rd. in East Harwich, MA on Thursday, May 7 at 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Gonnella Family Fund at the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, 1470 Orleans Road, East Harwich, MA 02645.