Ed Siudut was so highly sought by incoming College of the Holy Cross basketball coach Jack Donohue that he paid a visit to the Everett High star’s home his first day on the job in 1965.
Mr. Siudut, whose uniform was raised to the rafters of the old Everett High gym years later on a night in his honor, was well worth the recruiting trip. Everett coach Buddy Pelosi called Mr. Siudut the best basketball player in school history.
A 6-foot-7-inch forward, Mr. Siudut led Holy Cross in scoring and rebounding in his three varsity seasons and ranks third in the Worcester school’s history with an average of 22.4 points per game.
An ambidextrous player with a long-range jumper and a sweeping hook shot, Mr. Siudut was drafted in 1969 by the National Basketball Association’s San Francisco Warriors and the American Basketball Association’s New York Nets before playing professionally in Italy for a year.
Mr. Siudut, who served as a probation officer at Worcester Superior Court and chief probation officer at Norfolk Superior Court, died Tuesday outside his Pittsfield, N.H., home after collapsing while mowing his lawn. He was 65.
He was scheduled next month to begin serving as president of the Holy Cross Varsity Club.
“Ed stayed close to our school and athletic programs and would always help out in any way,’’ said Holy Cross athletic director Dick Regan. “If you needed something done, you called on him.’’
Upon word of Mr. Siudut’s death, a moment of silence was observed in Norfolk Superior Court, from which he retired.
“He was compassionate and beloved by his staff,’’ said Norfolk probation office manager Mary Shippey, who said Mr. Siudut took department secretaries to the Cheesecake Factory every April, held coffee receptions for new employees, and delighted in celebrating birthday and Christmas parties in the department.
Mr. Siudut was a Globe All-Scholastic and the first 1,000-point scorer at Everett High.
Holy Cross named him Crusader of the Year in 1969 for his achievements in sports and academics.
A three-time New England All-Star, he was inducted into the college’s athletic hall of fame in 1986.
Jim Maloney, a classmate, lifelong friend, and the basketball team’s manager, said Mr. Siudut ranks among the top half-dozen Crusader players he has watched for more than a half-century.
“Ed’s greatest game was his sophomore year at the Hurricane Classic in Miami,’’ said Maloney. “In our 90-84 overtime loss to Western Kentucky, he scored 37 points against a team with three future NBA players in its lineup.’’
Mr. Siudut ranks 11th at Holy Cross with 1,611 career points, achieved when freshmen could not play on the varsity and before 3-point field goals were instituted.
He graduated from the school in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in modern languages, and received a master’s in guidance and counseling from Framingham State College.
Mr. Siudut played the 1969-70 season with a professional team in Cantu, Italy, during which he was provided with a villa, free use of a car, and paid-for courses at the University of Milan.
“The offer was just too good to turn down,’’ Mr. Siudut, who was of Italian descent, said in a 1969 press release.
He returned to the United States the next year and was the Warriors’ final cut after the exhibition season.
Mr. Siudut met Mary Ellen Moran at a Regis College mixer. They married at the Academy of the Assumption in Wellesley in 1971 and soon traveled to Venezuela.
“We joined the Peace Corps together in 1972 and were in Maracaibo and Punto Fijo,’’ she said. “We ran the YMCA, and there was a Shell Oil facility nearby where Ed would go and bring back movies to the Y. He would translate the movie dialogue into Spanish for the kids.’’
The Siuduts moved to Natick in 1974, and Mr. Siudut became the first Spanish language interpreter at Worcester Superior Court before moving to the probation office.
He became chief probation officer at Norfolk Superior Court in 1990.
Mr. Siudut played for the SEL Concepts adult basketball team out of the Longfellow Sports Club in Natick until he was in his 50s and thrived against younger players, said team founder Stan Litchman.
“Ed still had that hook shot and the sharp elbows,’’ he recalled.
Mr. Siudut coached his four children in the Natick youth basketball program. Two of his daughters, Heidi Bogle of Durham, N.H., and Dorothy of Somerville, and his son, Edward Jr. of Bourne, were basketball captains at Natick High.
“We played basketball with my dad as far back as I can remember,’’ Dorothy said. “He took us to the Holy Cross games and would show us the trophy case, and we’d all look for his name. He said he played for the love of the game, and he had an amazing joy for life.’’
Mr. Siudut and his wife moved to Pittsfield, N.H., two years ago. Their home is across from a farm, on a hillside with a view of the White Mountains.
Being close to nature suited Mr. Siudut, who enjoyed walking in the woods and bird-watching. He also made frequent donations to food pantries wherever he lived.
“He was the kind of person who, when he drove through a toll booth, would thank the attendant by name,’’ his wife said.
In addition to his wife, two daughters, and son, Mr. Siudut leaves another daughter, Patricia, of Alexandria, Va.; a sister, Marianne Kwiatek of Revere; and two grandchildren.
Funeral Masses will be said at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in St. Zepherin Church in Wayland and at 3 p.m. Sunday in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Pittsfield, N.H.
“Ed was as gentle and friendly as he was big and tall back when I knew him in high school,’’ said Frederick Foresteire, school superintendent in Everett. “He was friends with everyone, and that never changed.’’