The Tom Favia Memorial Gymnasium

Dear Editor:

The Dante Alighieri Society firmly maintains that Tom Favia should be recognized for his significant contributions to scholastic sports and public education. Consequently, we would like the James J. Ferris High School gym designated as the “Tom Favia Memorial Gymnasium.”

Thomas J. “The Turk” Favia passed away on September 28, 2018. He was an educator, basketball coach, “dean,” and union leader par excellence. Before stepping down as president of the Jersey City Education Association (JCEA) in 2012, Tom Favia had dedicated nearly six decades of his life toward the betterment of the Jersey City School District.

Our fondest memories of Tom Favia are of him coaching the basketball team at James J. Ferris High School from 1966 to 1991. Many times, the Ferris Bulldogs were underdogs. Typically, back in the 70’s, the Ferris players were not as tall or fast as the other schools’ teams. Yet, overcoming great obstacles, the Bulldogs rose to the occasion. During Tom Favia’s tenure as head coach, Ferris won 5 state sectional titles, 3 county titles and 6 south Hudson titles. As a matter of interesting fact, Tom Favia is the only coach to have a winning record against Saint Anthony’s legendary head coach, Bob Hurley. Upon retiring from coaching in 1991, Tom Favia had attained the most wins in Jersey City public school history, and he was subsequently placed in the Hudson County Athletic Hall of Fame.

As “Dean,” Tom Favia displayed a firmness in administering discipline; but, also, a sincere compassion. Essentially, with Tom Favia, the punishment always was equitable to the transgression. Indeed, Tom Favia was huge and gruff. But, his heart was even larger.

Following the passing of Lou Scialli – an inspirational labor leader and a legend in the annals of Jersey City public education – Tom Favia took the reins of the JCEA; and, for over 20 years, served as that union’s president. Tom Favia took great pride representing the teachers of Jersey City; he negotiating some of the best compensation and benefit packages in the state.

Tom Favia spent the little spare time he had volunteering, where he could be found in leadership positions in numerous organizations. For example, he was President of the Hudson County Basketball Coaches Association, Treasurer of the Hudson County Umpires Association, and President of the Bayonne Jay Cees. In 2005, he was awarded the honorable distinction of being named the Dante Alighieri Society’s “Italian Man of the Year.”

Tom Favia reinforced the values of good sportsmanship to his players. He was instrumental in the molding of boys into responsible, adult men — on the basketball court and in the harshest court of them all, the public.

For these reasons, we strongly recommend – and support – the designation of the Ferris gym in honor of Tom Favia – “The Tom Favia Memorial Gymnasium.”

Albert J. Cupo


John Di Genio
Dante Alighieri Society, Jersey City