LEXINGTON, Va. -- Gilbert Bocetti, Jr., former Washington and Lee quarterback and member of the W&L Athletic Hall of Fame, passed away on November 24 at the North Carolina State Veterans Nursing Home in Fayetteville, N.C. He was 78 years old.
Bocetti was inducted into the W&L Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989 and he is considered one of the greatest athletes in school history. He is also called by some as the greatest Split-T quarterback in the history of college football.
"Gil was a very good friend and a great leader," said former teammate and former W&L Athletic Director Bill McHenry '54. "I have been involved with W&L athletics for more than 50 years and Gil was the best quarterback we have ever had. He was a frequent visitor to W&L over the years and he supported the school's change from big-time football 100 percent even though he himself had been a scholarship athlete at W&L. He was a tough, hard-nosed guy and I know he had been suffering -- I know he is in a far better place now."
A native of McKeesport, Pa., Bocetti was a two-time First Team All-Southern Conference selection at quarterback, receiving the honor in both 1950 and 1951. He led the 1950 squad to an 8-2 record, and a spot in the 1951 Gator Bowl, W&L's first and only appearance in a post-season bowl game. During Bocetti's three varsity seasons, W&L compiled a 17-12-1 record and won the Southern Conference Championship in 1950. He was named an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American following his final two seasons with the Blue & White.
Bocetti, who graduated in 1952, was named the best player in the state his junior year by the Roanoke Touchdown Club in 1950 after leading W&L to a Top 20 national ranking. In 1949, he set a national single-game record for total offense with 340 yards against Davidson. After his senior season, Bocetti played in both the North-South College All-Star Game and the Blue-Gray All-Star game. The General's quarterback is best remembered for his performance in leading W&L to a shocking 42-14 upset of the University of Virginia in 1951.
Bocetti later served as an assistant football coach with the Generals while earning his law degree from W&L in 1954. As an undergraduate, Bocetti was selected for Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership fraternity, and was named to "Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities."
"Gil was as fine a college quarterback as I have ever been around," said former teammate Walt Michaels '51. "He was very intelligent, had a great arm and knew what was happening on the football field. His only shortcoming was his height, but I believe he still could have played in the NFL despite his size. Gil also did very well with his academics and he was the kind of person you would want to go to war with. He was top-notch."
Bocetti is survived by his wife, Billie Carr Bocetti of the home; two step-daughters, Lynda Senter of Durham, N.C., and Lauri Carter and husband, Bob, of Pinehurst, N.C.; brother, Tony Bocetti of Pittsburgh, Pa.; sister-in-law, Peggy Bocetti of Kinston, N.C.; four grandchildren, Brittany and Lindsay Senter of Durham, N.C., and Lauren and Erinn Oakley of Pinehurst, N.C.; nieces, Gina and Lisa Bocetti; nephews, Donnie and David Gajewski, Dean, Buddy and Gilbert Bocetti; aunt and uncle, Vera and Dom Del Balso.