Philip J. Colella spent most of his life as an English teacher and is much remembered for that, but he's also remembered for his football career in high school and college.
He was inducted into the Beaver County Hall of Fame for being a three-time all-state football player for Rochester High School, and he's in "Ripley's Believe it or Not" for his first play as a freshman at Notre Dame University. There he ran for a 76-yard touchdown during a victory over the University of Illinois.
Mr. Colella, 88, of Moon, who still held some records at Rochester High School, Beaver County, died Wednesday while suffering from "a multitude of things," according to his daughter, Christie Covelli.
Before college Mr. Colella was drafted into the Navy and served his country during World War II.
At the time he made "Ripley's Believe It or Not," in 1945, Mr. Colella was playing football for Notre Dame coach Hugh Devore. When Devore went to St. Bonaventure University, Mr. Colella transferred there, too, to continue playing for his coach.
"He was a running back," Ms. Covelli said. "He played at St. Bonaventure and was named Little All-American." He was also inducted into St. Bonaventure's Hall of Fame. "I don't remember when, but it was all because of his football performance there," his daughter added. "He was a very humble man. We're still learning stuff."
He also got his academic degree at St. Bonaventure, in 1949, qualifying as a teacher.
Mr. Colella got his master's degree in secondary English from the University of Pittsburgh in the early 1970s.
He spent a year or two teaching at Ambridge's junior high, then went on to spend about 25 years at Moon Area., After retiring in the late 1980s, he was a substitute teacher for about another 20 years.
Besides Ms. Covelli, also of Moon, he is survived by a second daughter, Phyllis Bates of Spartanburg, S.C.; five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and sisters Jennie Fusco Dioguardi, Carmel Cook and Donna Grace Colella.
Friends will be received from 1 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today at Huntsman Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Moon, where a prayer service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Monday. Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. in St. James Catholic Church, Sewickley.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Good Samaritan Hospice or the Community of Holy Family Manor.
Pohla Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org.