Obituary: David Mooney / Outstanding athlete at Mount Union College, Turtle Creek High

April 4, 1942 - April 27, 2013

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Patrick Mooney was an accomplished athlete in his own right, yet was proud to say his little brother was even better.

"He was like my shadow, growing up. But to tell the difference, in Little League, he'd be the one to make the all-star teams. For his age, he was a dynamo.

"I take some of the credit for that," Mr. Mooney said, laughing, "because he grew up with me!"

David Mooney, 71, died Saturday from complications of Alzheimer's.

There was a four-year age difference between the brothers, but growing up in Turtle Creek with their younger sister, Judith, life was filled with backyard activities. Their father, Patrick, worked for Westinghouse and their mother, Marcella, was a tax collector for the borough of Turtle Creek.

Their father was a Little League umpire who encouraged the kids to play any number of sports. Eventually, Patrick Jr. would make his mark as an accomplished football player and track and field athlete at Turtle Creek High School, but David went a step further.

At the time, Turtle Creek had one of the bigger football programs in the WPIAL, with David as running back. He also played high school baseball and was a sprinter of note.

He wasn't tall for a star athlete; his brother said that as a senior in high school, David was perhaps 5 feet 7 and 150 pounds. But at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, where he was on the track team, his speed in the backfield attracted notice from the football coaches.

"He was just big enough to play high school ball, but he didn't have the size [for college]," his brother said.

At Mount Union, David Mooney stood out as both an indoor and outdoor Ohio Conference sprint champion. Patrick Mooney said that after David's graduation, in 1964, he had been invited to some "big league" races on the West Coast.

"To excel at that level was quite an accomplishment."

"There were people who should have beaten him every day of the week, but he was so determined, he found a way to win," said Harold Riggle, Mr. Mooney's freshman roommate and track teammate.

"From the standpoint of size, when you factor that into his overall accomplishments, it's truly incredible, like a 5-8 guy becoming a star in the NBA."

"And he was an all-around type individual. He didn't care whether you were a high jumper or a shot putter; he always wanted the team to do its best.

"Track's an individual sport, but he was always there for everybody."

Years later, the Mount Union Purple Raiders inducted David Mooney into their sports hall of fame, and he also was chosen for the East Boros chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

David Mooney would eventually settle in Plum and begin a business, D&D Distributors. His two daughters, Courtney and Nikki, were outstanding athletes at Plum High School, and Mr. Mooney became involved in local youth sports as a coach and official through their involvement. .

"I think the first word that comes to mind about David was, he was a competitor," his brother said, "no matter what he did, even if it was just going into the backyard to throw around a ball. He was a very likable guy, but he basically did what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it."

In addition to his brother, Mr. Mooney is survived by a sister, Judith Sparlin; daughters Courtney Anderson and Nikki Sciulli; and five grandchildren.

A visitation is scheduled from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today at Maurice L. Knee Funeral Home, 7663 Saltsburg Road, Plum. A blessing service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The family suggests donations to the University of Mount Union track and field program, 1972 Clark Ave., Alliance, OH 44601, or to the Alzheimer's Association, 1100 Liberty Avenue, Suite E-201, Pittsburgh 15222.

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Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1478.


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