Lee Franzman, who coached high school girls basketball at four different schools, died of breast cancer on Sunday night. Franzman was 80.
Franzman, a Milford resident, coached at the former Milford High, the last coach to do so before the school closed in 1983. He led Milford to consecutive Class M state championship games, losing to Ellington in the final in both 1982 and 1983.
Franzman also coached at Law, Amity and Foran, spending close to two decades coaching in the sport.
“Think about girls sports in the early 1970s. He really believed girls deserved as much of a chance as boys did. He pushed that to the limits,” said Lee’s son Marc Franzman. “He helped develop people being a mentor and being an educator as well. He loved those kids (at Milford High) and had such a connection with those kids.”
Lee Franzman was a middle school math and science teacher for four decades, first in Meriden, then in Milford. Anthony Vitelli was a student at Milford High when Franzman coached there then taught together at East Shore Middle School for several years.
Vitelli, now the Foran High athletic director, always addressed him as Mr. Franzman.
“He was an advocate for women’s athletics,” Vitelli said. “He made everyone feel like an equal. He carried himself the right way. That’s why I enjoyed being around him.”
Franzman co-founded the Eastern Basketball Camp, held annually in Moodus, to teach both boys and girls the fundamental skills of the sport. Vitelli recalls a number of NBA players coming to speak at the camp, including former Los Angeles Lakers player and general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Franzman spent many years volunteering for the New Haven County Tap-Off Club, which selected the top area boys and girls basketball players each season. The club also selected scholar-athletes.
“He was proud of the scholar-athlete awards that were given out,” Marc Franzman said.
Lee Franzman was also the Nominating Committee Chair for the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
In addition to his son, Franzman is survived by his wife Karla, daughter Meryl, brother Laurence and three grandchildren: Samantha, Olivia and Ella. A private service was held Tuesday at King David Memorial Gardens in New York.
Contributions to Franzman’s memory may be sent to the Jonathan Law High School Sports Booster Club at Jonathan Law High School, 20 Lansdale Avenue, Milford, Connecticut, 06460.