Reinhold M. Spath with Pele at a 1973 friendly in Rochester. (Photo courtesy of Rochester District Soccer League)

National Soccer Hall of Famer Reinhold M. Spath of Rochester, N.Y. passed away on Sunday.

He was 91.

Spath was a longtime referee and referee assessor in Rochester and western New York.

Born in West Germany and Spath started playing soccer at the age of six in his native West Germany and played youth soccer in Salzburg, Austria. He competed in the German amateur league until 1958. A year later, Spath emigrated to the United States.

He played for the German American Sports Club in Rochester for three years before turning to officiating in 1961. Spath eventually worked the middle in the North American Soccer League.

During his 30 years as a referee, he officiated more than 5,000 games. Spath later assessed more than 1,000.

Spath served as the New York West state referee administrator for 1980-2002 and the state youth referee administrator from 1980-99.

He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1996.

The Rochester District Soccer League named a cup, the Reinhold M. Spath Cup, after the long-time official.

“My most memorable moment was serving as the referee when the Rochester Lancers played the U.S. national team,” Spath was quoted by the Rochester District Soccer League website. “My next assignment from USSF was senior linesman at the Lancers vs. Santos Brazil friendly, with Pele playing. In my years as a referee, I had great times and it can only be done in America!”

Among Spath’s many honors:

* In 1983 Congressman Frank Horton presented him a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capital on July 4 1983 to Spath “for his many years of faithful, devoted and outstanding service to the game of soccer as a referee and administrator in Rochester N.Y.”

* He was a life member of the North Western NY State Soccer Association, N.W. Soccer Referees Organization, Finger Lakes Soccer League, North American Junior Soccer League, U.S. National Referee program and RDSL.

* Spath was given the William Scofield Memorial Award in 1991 at the National Referee Testing session in Colorado.

* In 1995, Spath was named Citizen of the Year by the Federation of German-American Societies in Rochester.

* On April 27, 2014 he was inducted into the Rochester Soccer Hall of Fame along with Abby Wambach, Charlie Schiano, Brian Bliss. Pat Dinalfo, Arman Capan and Bernie Iacovangelo.

Spath is survived by his wife Joyce Spath, daughter Patricia Small (Ronald), grandchildren Amanda Small and Brian Small and great grandchild Ava Small.

Visitation at the Bartolomeo & Perotto Funeral Home will be held on Sunday, Sept. 19 from 1-4 p.m. The funeral home is located at (1411 Vintage Lane, Rochester, N.Y. 14626).

A funeral mass will be held Monday, Sept. 20 at 11 a.m. at the Parish of the Holy Family (4100 Lyell Rd, Rochester, N.Y. 14606). A burial will be held Monday, Sept. 20 2021 at 12:30 p.m. at the Holy Ghost Cemetery (220 Coldwater Road, Rochester, N.Y. 14624).

Spath’s family has requested that their guests wear masks at the funeral home and church.