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Saying goodbye to the coach

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image Chuck Lota, brother of Coach Tom Lota, speaks during the memorial service. The podium was, appropriately, placed on a EBHS wrestling mat. Mitch Traphagen Photo

Hundreds turn out for memorial service for Coach Tom Lota at EBHS.

By MITCH TRAPHAGEN

Despite the passage of three decades, many of Coach Tom Lota’s wrestlers and students have never forgotten him.  During a memorial ceremony held in the Coach Tom Lota Gymnasium at East Bay High School on Saturday, more than 300 people turned out to say farewell to the beloved coach and educator, with many sharing their stories of how significantly both Tom and his wife Lynne had impacted their lives.  Speakers at the ceremony included his brother, Chuck Lota, former East Bay principal Sharon Morris, Gary Nelson, an EBHS alumni and former wrestler who credited Tom and Lynne Lota for his accomplishments in life, along with friends David Baker and Dennis Portsmore and several former students. 

Donations in Lota’s memory were presented to the wrestling coaches of East Bay High School, Riverview High School and Steinbrenner High School.  A donation was also sent to the Florida chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Reverend David Looney opened the ceremony and Pastor Tommy Thompson closed the ceremony with prayers. Lori Lynn Grice beautifully sang the National Anthem and the Lord’s Prayer during the ceremony. The East Bay ROTC provided the color guard.

Tom Lota passed away on April 21 after a more than two-year battle with cancer.  He is survived by his wife Lynne, his son Tom Lota, Jr., his daughters Kathy Hall and Lynnette Reina, two grandchildren, and thousands of students who have never forgotten his dedication and compassion during his years at East Bay High School.

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