News Obituary: Edward G. Polak / Standout athlete, coach

Dec. 7, 1952 - July 27, 2014

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The dictionary defines tough as “strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling.” Friends of Edward G. Polak said he was the manifestation of the word.

He was known as tough to those he competed with in high school and collegiate athletics and later to those he coached.

Mr. Polak died Sunday at his Munhall home after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 61.

A standout athlete at Homestead High School, Mr. Polak was a member of the class of 1971, the last senior class to graduate from Homestead High. Homestead was consolidated into the Steel Valley School District the next school year.

Mr. Polak was a starter for the 1971 Homestead basketball team that finished second in WPIAL Class B, losing the championship game to Midland.

Along with basketball, he was an all-star football player. His accomplishments at Homestead led to a football scholarship at Youngstown State University.

Many described him as a born linebacker. During his sophomore year, Mr. Polak led Youngstown State’s defense in tackles and interceptions.

“If you ran into him, he had vice-grip hands and a size 14 shoe,” said Jack Linsenbigler, a longtime friend of Mr. Polak.

Mr. Polak played with the likes of Ron Jaworski, who was a senior when he was a freshman, and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Cliff Stoudt, who was member of Mr. Polak’s class at Youngstown State.

He also had a career in mortgage banking. He spent 19 years with Mellon Bank as a mortgage officer. He also worked for Weyerhaeuser and First National Bank.

Mr. Polak was heavily involved in youth sports. He coached linebackers at West Mifflin Area High School as well as youth basketball at St. Therese School in Munhall.

Ray Braszo, head football coach at West Mifflin Area, had Mr. Polak serve as an assistant when he first started coaching the program.

“He was a firm, tough coach,” Mr. Braszo said. “As tough as he was, though, you knew he was fair, too.”

Athletics aside, Mr. Polak also will be remembered for being a family man. Referred to as “G” by his grandchildren, he told most people that it stood for “great.”

“If anybody ever met him, he was a gentle giant,” Mr. Linsenbigler said. “A lot of people always say someone’s a family man, but for him, it’s very, very true.”

Mr. Polak is survived by his wife, Dauna; his mother, Dorothy, of Munhall; a son, Jamie of West Homstead; a daughter, Amy Tomasic of West Mifflin; and a brother, Michael of Munhall.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today and Wednesday at Savolskis, Wasik, and Glenn Funeral Home, 3501 Main St., Munhall. A Mass will be celebrated at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Therese Church in Munhall.

Ryan Petrovich: rpetrovich@post-gazette.com.


Ryan Petrovich: rpetrovich@post-gazette.com.

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