Coach Bob Del Rosa, 75, dies; led Case Western Reserve University wrestling for 45 years

Retired Cleveland State University wrestling coach Dick Bonacci once said if Bob Del Rosa had an enemy in life, you'd have to scour the planet to find him.

Del Rosa, the well-known and well-liked head wrestling coach at Case Western Reserve University the past 45 years, died peacefully Thursday night at TriPoint Medical Center in Concord Township at age 75 following complications from a late-summer surgery.

Though he was a low-key coach with a good sense of humor, Del Rosa was not a pushover in the coach's chair. He had 306 dual-meet victories, four NCAA Division III national champions -- Isaac Dukes at 149 pounds in 2010; Chris Riklic, who won two titles (1994-95); and heavyweight Derek Messmer in 1996 -- 18 All-Americans, 37 NCAA qualifiers and 35 Academic All-Americans.

"I am a real easygoing guy," Del Rosa said in 2004, "but when I ask [my wrestlers] to do something, they do it."

Wrestling wasn't the only sport Del Rosa coached. He was also head football coach at the school from 1976 to '81, and also a head coach in baseball and tennis. In addition, he was also the Spartans' assistant athletic director and compliance director.

Del Rosa became an institution at one of the country's most scholarly institutions.

"No words can adequately describe Coach Del Rosa's unequaled contributions to our department and the university," CWRU Athletic Director David Diles said in a written statement. "But I find that all of us are richer personally for knowing him."

Del Rosa said there were two reasons why he never retired as wrestling coach.

"I love wrestling," he told The Plain Dealer. "I've coached football, baseball and tennis, but I have a special love for wrestling."

In 2006, he said: "If I retire, I'm dead. I've seen too many of my coaches retire and then I'm going to their funerals. Right now I feel like a 60-year-old. I'm still a young guy."

Longtime coach Rich Fleming (Parma High and Baldwin-Wallace College) said Del Rosa will be missed in wrestling circles as a coach and a person.

"When I coach against him at B-W, Bob acted no differently if he beat us than he did when he lost to us," Fleming said. "He was a first-class coach and a human being, and I admired him as did everyone who knew him. He never held a grudge against anyone or made excuses."

Del Rosa wrestled at John Adams High School, where he graduated in 1955; was a graduate of the University of Cincinnati in 1959; and earned a master's degree from CWRU in 1970, holding a position of associate professor.

A resident of Mentor, Del Rosa is survived by his wife of 46 years, Ann, and two grown sons, Scott and Jim.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.