Longtime O’Fallon high school principal and coach dies at 82

Bob Bellina
Bob Bellina Provided

Bob Bellina, who worked at O’Fallon Township High School for more than three decades, died this week.

Bellina told the Belleville News-Democrat in a 2007 interview that he came to O’Fallon in 1959, when there were just 320 students. In his tenure at OTHS, he was a social studies teacher, coach and principal before retiring in 1994.

He died Wednesday at 82. A visitation is scheduled for 3-8 p.m. Sunday at St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, 625 Saint Nicholas Drive in O’Fallon.

The high school’s enrollment is seven times larger today than it had been when Bellina began his career there, with 2,475 students on average now.

Bellina continued to be a Panthers fan even after he retired, according to O’Fallon School District 203 Superintendent Darcy Benway. In 2007, Bellina talked with the BND about making his 30th trip to watch an O’Fallon team’s state tournament.

“He touched the lives of numerous students and teachers, and he will be greatly missed,” Benway stated in an email to the BND.

OTHS Principal Rich Bickel remembers Bellina as having a “constant smile” and never refusing a request for help in his retirement.

Jerry Turner, a retired principal of Belleville West High School, described Bellina as a dedicated and innovative person and a good friend. They worked together during Turner’s 24 years at West.

“Bob was a tower of strength in the educational circles in St. Clair County and throughout the entire state,” Turner said.