JOSEPH PALERMO, Class of 1954

Joseph Palermo
Class of 1954
Inducted in 2016

The epitome of the term student-athlete, Joseph R. Palermo, Jr. won honors both on the athletic fields and in the world of academia during his years at Lowell High school and beyond.

Joe was a member of the Lowell High School Basketball team (1952-1953), but it was a member of Hall of Fame Coach Ray Riddick’s powerhouse Football teams of the early 1950’s that he made his mark in the annals of Lowell High School Athletics.

During Joe’s three years as a member of the Red and Gray Football team (1951-1953), Lowell compiled a record of 29-1 , including a string of 24 consecutive victories. The team won consecutive Massachusetts Class A State Championships in 1952 and 1953 and traveled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina where they defeated a North Carolina All-Star team in the Piedmont Bowl, 26-12, completing an 11-0 season (1953). Joe played guard on offense and linebacker on defense, and was a key member of squads that dominated the opposition, especially in 1952 when the Red and Gray outscored their opponents 272-27, with 7 shutouts.

While busy with his athletic commitments, Joe maintained a lofty academic standing throughout his years on Kirk Street. He served as President of the National Honor Society (1953-54 ), and most significantly was named as Valedictorian of the Class of 1954, signifying his status as number one ranking student academically in the graduating Class of 1954. He also received a prestigious Carney Medal for academic excellence.

After graduation Joe attended Dartmouth University, where he continued his football career under legendary Dartmouth Coach Bob Blackman. During Joe’s freshman year he was a member of Dartmouth’s yearling Football team . During an early season contest the team’s placekicker was injured, so Joe volunteered to kick the extra point after a touchdown. He was successful and won the job for the remainder of his career.

Over his varsity career (1955-1957) Joe was a three-year starter for the Big Green on both offense (right guard) and defense (linebacker), as well as handling all kickoffs and placekicking duties. He called defensive signals and also kicked 45 out of 52 career extra points. During his senior season Joe converted 17-20 extra points, ranking him 10th in the NCAA. His last minute conversions earned Dartmouth a 21-20 victory over Cornell and a 14-14 tie versus Yale .

Joe received two of Dartmouth’s most prestigious honors at the conclusion of his senior year: The Dartmouth Cup, presented to “That athlete who by his conduct on and off the field reflects the greatest credit to the College”, and The Watson Trophy, given to the Dartmouth’s Outstanding Male Varsity Athlete.

At the conclusion of his Dartmouth Football career, Joe received a host of awards for his stellar play. He was named 1957 recipient of the George Bulger Lowe Award, presented annually to the Most Outstanding College Football Player in New England. Joe was also a consensus 1st team All-New England, All-Ivy League, and All-East selection. The culmination of his career was his selection as a 1st team All-American by Hearst Newspapers and football guru Mr. Z. Joe took his place on the All-American teams with players from Notre Dame, Auburn, Texas A & M, Michigan State, etc. These honors were won in an era when the Ivy League was a national D-1 power conference.

Induction Year: 2016
Graduation/Class Year: 1954
Gender: Male
LHS Sports Played: Basketball, Football
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Living/Deceased: Deceased
College: Dartmouth
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All-American: Yes
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