Lewis "Louie" Guidi, a former All-American wrestling champion, and beloved coach and teacher at Chartiers High School, died suddenly of unknown causes on Wednesday at Jefferson Hospital despite remaining in great shape throughout his entire life. Mr. Guidi was 78.
Mr. Guidi became a collegiate wrestling star at West Virginia University from 1953-56, where he finished second at the 1955 NCAA tournament. He was considered one of the best wrestlers on the East Coast in the 130-pound weight division, as he won the Southern Conference championship twice and was named the tournament's most outstanding wrestler in 1956. He was named to the Mountaineers Hall of Fame in 2006.
"Lewis is one of the greatest wrestlers in WVU history, and he was as good a person as he was a wrestler -- just outstanding," West Virginia head coach Craig Turnbull said to wvusports.com. "He will be greatly missed."
After graduation, Mr. Guidi joined the Army from 1956-59, where he continued to compete as a wrestler, earning second in 1958 and 1959 in the U.S. Nationals. On top of competing, he coached in the Brooke Army Medical Center sports program during his time in the service.
Mr. Guidi then started the first ever varsity wrestling team at Washington Township High School in New Jersey, where he spent five years coaching, teaching and touching the lives of pupils that would eventually become successful businessmen, politicians, members of the military, million dollar salesmen and a state assemblyman, among other things.
The next and final stop for Mr. Guidi was Collier, where he coached at Chartiers Valley High School for 12 years and taught for 24 years before retiring in 1993.
"He was the type of person you would want to coach your kid," said Gus Marquis, the former athletic director at Chartiers Valley. "He was a great person, and I can't say anything negative about him. He cared about the kids, knew the sport and I had a tremendous amount of respect for him. I can't say enough good things about him, he was just a great person."
Mr. Guidi, who was described by his wife, Sharon, as "well loved and larger than life," was a big presence in the community, someone who still kept in touch with his former wrestlers in New Jersey, even though he hadn't coached there in almost 50 years.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his five children, Megan Guidi, Sarah Guidi, Natalie Holmes, Monty Guidi and Lori Gialone; siblings Gary Guidi and Alfreda Dulaney; and eight grandchildren.
Friends will be received from 5 to 8 p.m. today and from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Szafranski-Eberlein Funeral Home, 101 Third St., Carnegie. A Mass will be celebrated in Our Lady of Grace Church in Scott at 10 a.m. Monday.
Everett Cook: email@example.com and on Twitter @everettcook.