Steelers player coached at Waynesburg, Pitt
John “Jack” Wiley, 92, passed away Monday, March 25, 2013, in Hospice and Community Care in Rock Hill, S.C.
He was born April 18, 1920, in Wind Ridge.
Mr. Wiley grew up on the family farm in Greene County and attended and graduated, with honors, from Waynesburg College in 1941. As a member of the Waynesburg football team, he played in the first televised American football game on NBC on September 30, 1939, versus Fordham at Triboro Stadium in Randall’s Island, N.Y. He enlisted in the U.S. Army during his senior year, graduated from Officer Candidate School and served during World War II, after which he was honorably discharged at the rank of captain.
In 1945, he married the former Helen Grace McColgin of Apollo. In summer 1946, he received an invitation to attend the preseason camp of the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent and played five seasons. After retiring from the Steelers, after the 1950 season, he was hired as head football coach at his alma mater, Waynesburg College. During his four years at Waynesburg, his teams posted winning seasons with an overall record of 22-9-1. In 1955, he joined the football staff at Pitt, where he served as assistant coach until 1961. Coach Wiley recruited and coached numerous All-American players, including future NFL players and later head coaches Mike Ditka and Marty Schottenheimer.
Athletic honor awards include the Waynesburg College Sports Hall Of Fame, Western and Washington/Greene County Chapters of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall Of Fame and Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame for Football Coaching.
He served as both elder and deacon at Pleasant Hill United Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh and later held those same positions at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Dunedin, Fla. He also served many years on the board of trustees at Waynesburg University. During those years, he was awarded an honorary degree, doctor of humane letters, as well as having the university’s football stadium renamed in 1998 as John F. Wiley Stadium.
In 1962, he joined LG Balfour Jewelry and Taylor Publishing as a salesman and later became regional manager. He and his wife retired to Clearwater, Fla., in 1983, where they lived until 2008 when they moved to Rock Hill.
Surviving are his wife, Helen Grace of Rock Hill; a sister, Peggy Morgan of Waynesburg; children John F. II and Karen Wiley of Rock Hill, Dr. David and Bonnie Graft of Edina, Minn., and Alan and Lynda Wiley of Las Vegas, Nev.; 11 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
A family memorial service will be held at noon Friday, March 29, in Hospice and Community Care, 2275 India Hook Road, Rock Hill. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting memorial donations be made to “The East Gateway to Wiley Stadium Fund,” Waynesburg University, 51 West College Street, Waynesburg, PA 15370.