Obituary: John Catone / Teacher and coach whose life revolved around sports

Oct. 1, 1936 - Aug. 28, 2013

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A father, a teacher and a coach, John Catone was always known for pulling off a trifecta.

His physical fitness team was three-time Tri-State champions and he either coached or played baseball, basketball and football.

An inductee of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame East Boros Chapter in 1995, Mr. Catone died Aug. 28 at Coffeyville Regional Medical Center in Coffeyville, Kan. He was 76.

"His whole life was sports, from childhood and then on, everything was sports," said his wife of 57 years, Jane Catone, 75.

He also served in the U.S. Army during the early 1960s and was a member of North American Martyrs Catholic Church in Monroeville.

Mr. Catone was born Oct. 1, 1936, in Pittsburgh and played football and basketball for the Rankin Jackrabbits. He was known to be fast and powerful on the court with great hands and a pure set-shot.

His team went 22-0 and became the section champions before losing to Farrell, which went on to win the state championship in 1954. Mr. Catone was also the star running back and punter for Rankin and received a scholarship to play football at Coffeyville Junior College.

He wound up playing basketball instead.

Even though Mr. Catone didn't play baseball in high school or college, it was thought to be his best sport as he played in the Sun-Telegraph all-star game at Forbes Field.

His son, Jim Catone, 50, of South Huntingdon, said his father was offered a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he declined because he wanted to graduate from college and pursue his real dream. He completed his education at Pittsburg State University in Kansas.

"He really wanted to become a physical education teacher and coach," his son said.

And he fulfilled his dream at the former Westinghouse Memorial High School in Wilmerding.

Mr. Catone coached football, basketball and volleyball in Wilmerding. He also was the assistant basketball coach of the St. Thomas Tomcats in Braddock with Clarence "Climey" Wargo 1976-77, when the team won back-to-back WPIAL championships. Mr. Catone's son was on the team during that time.

"He was very humble about his achievements," Jim Catone said. "He was a tough, hard-nosed guy, but everyone liked him. They appreciated when he pushed them."

He continued his success long after the merger that created the East Allegheny School District. He retired in 1990 after 31 years of coaching and teaching,

His players and colleagues still remember his style of coaching.

"He was old school from head to toe," said Tim Cortazzo, athletic director of East Allegheny and former player for Mr. Catone.

"He preached fundamentals; he was structured and very respected. Just the way he carried himself you can tell he demanded respect."

After retirement, Mr. Catone helped his son coach the eighth- and ninth-grade basketball team.

"Unlike the kids, he couldn't wait to get back to school in September," Mrs. Catone said. "He just loved what he did."

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Catone is survived by a daughter, Carol Oneslager, 41, of Kansas; and four grandchildren.

The family asked anyone wishing to attend a memorial service in Pittsburgh to send their email address to pford620@comcast.net or carol.oneslager@gmail.com.

obituaries

Kelton Brooks: kbrooks@post-gazette.com.


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