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'He was the best'

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - Updated: 10:41 AM

Former GASD educator touched the lives of many


Former Greater Amsterdam School District Superintendent Arthur Cotugno is being remembered this week as a pillar in the local education system, and colleagues say his legacy will be carried on by those who served with him.

Cotugno, a lifelong city resident, passed away Friday. He was 78.

"A lot of the qualities he had as an administrator, he passed on, and they'll stay in a lot of people's lives," said former assistant superintendent and current school board president Nellie Bush.

"He was a gentleman of integrity," she said. "He cared about the people, he cared about the children, he cared about the school district, and he cared about this city. He was the epitome of what you would want in a school teacher and administrator. This is a great loss and I'm positive everyone feels remorseful and sad; anyone who worked for, or with him, loved him, because he was the best."

Cotugno was a teacher for the first five years of his long career. After starting his career at Mayfield Central School in 1960, Cotugno began his long career at GASD as a Spanish teacher at Wilbur H. Lynch High School.

He moved on to administration in 1965, when he served as the district's foreign languages coordinator. He eventually became a school principal, including that of Lynch until 1983, when he became the staff director. He held that post until 1991, when he took the helm as superintendent for four years, until his retirement in 1995.

Former superintendent Ronald Limoncelli called Cotugno his mentor.

"He was a man of integrity; a person you could trust; a person you wanted to work for because he was just there when you needed him," Limoncelli said.

"He was just a real class act -- a wonderful man," Limoncelli continued. "He gave me the opportunity to hold the superintendent position in the district. He was the greatest administrator to work for."

Bush also referred to Cotugno as a mentor.

"One of my administration internships was with him," she said. "He was very patient, he never rushed, and he spent a great deal of time making sure he was training me the right way, and I would say he did."

Cotugno also touched the life of current superintendent Thomas Perillo.

"I'll always remember him as a very fair individual and an outstanding administrator who was very loyal to GASD," Perillo said. "When I first started going to college for my master's in education administration, I was teaching at Amsterdam. I talked to [Cotugno] about the different courses for college and I remember how comfortable I felt talking to him. Usually a situation like that is intimidating, but he made me comfortable. He was very easy to talk to."

Perillo said Cotugno once gave him advice that he's remembered ever since.

"He told me to never lose sight of my goals," he said. "He told me to see them through and follow them through."

Cotugno was born April 25, 1936, the son of Antonio and Gilda Marcuccio Cotugno.

In addition to his career as an educator, Cotugno served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict in Orleans, France.

Cotugno is survived by his wife, Mary Grace Cotugno. He was the proud father of Dr. Kyle Cotugno and Dr. Aaron Cotugno.

There will be a Mass of Christian Burial Friday at Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Mount Carmel Cemetery with full military honors.

There are no calling hours.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Amsterdam Free Library, 28 Church St., Amsterdam 12010, or to the Arthur P. Cotugno Memorial Scholarship Fund, 239 Northern Blvd. A full obituary appears today on Page 4.


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