Obituary: Dan Marino Sr. / Father of quarterback for Pitt and Miami Dolphins
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Dan Marino Sr., the father of former Miami Dolphins quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino Jr., died Saturday at his home in Weston, Fla. He was 71.
"My dad was the most loving father, grandfather and husband," Dan Marino Jr. said in a statement released last night. "He was also a friend to everyone and the best coach anyone could ever have."
Mr. Marino, who died of cancer, was a sandlot football coach who taught his son how to throw a football with the trademark quick-release snap that helped make him a star quarterback for Central Catholic High School, the University of Pittsburgh and, ultimately, the Miami Dolphins.
The field where Dan Marino Jr. threw his first pass and where he and his father spent countless hours practicing -- since renamed Marino Field -- is just down the street from the family home on Parkview Avenue in Oakland.
Described by his son as a "hero," Mr. Marino was also known for teaching his children life lessons to prepare them for the bigger world they would meet as adults. As a football coach, Mr. Marino made his son pick his jersey last, landing him with the supposedly unlucky number 13 that became so lucky he wore it for the Dolphins as well.
Those lessons, said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, taught Dan Marino Jr. not just how to play football but how to live well.
"Dan Marino Sr. not only taught his son the finer points of football, but also the finer points of life," Mr. Nordenberg said in a statement. "Dan Jr. readily credited his father with teaching him the throwing motion that led to a Hall of Fame career -- along with the more lasting lessons of hard work, discipline and integrity."
Dan Marino Sr.'s job delivering newspapers Downtown for The Pittsburgh Press and then for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, starting at 2 a.m. daily, gave him lots of chances to deliver his pithy wisdom, whether at the Little League lot or on scraps of paper sent to his son at Pitt.
"I'll always remember the times that we'd just sit and talk about football and about life," Dan Jr. said during his Hall of Fame induction speech in 2005. "You taught me to treat people the way you want to be treated. You would always say that you didn't deserve anything in life; you only deserve what you earn."
After Mr. Marino retired in 1993, he and his wife, Veronica, relocated to Weston, Fla., to live near their son and their daughter, Debbie. Their other daughter, Cindy, lives in Pittsburgh.
The Marinos returned to Pittsburgh often to visit their family members here, and Mr. Marino said that was their version of a vacation: taking their time and enjoying the trip while driving 20 hours over two days in their Chevy van.
"It's a beautiful ride," Mr. Marino told the Post-Gazette when his son was inducted into the Hall of Fame. "I'm not pressed for time; when we get there, we get there. The point is getting there, that is the objective."
Mr. Marino is survived by his wife, son, two daughters, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
In Florida, a Mass will be celebrated at St. Bonaventure Church in Davie tomorrow at 10 a.m.
In Pittsburgh, visitation will be at John N. Elachko Funeral Home on Dawson Street in Oakland on Thursday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. A Mass will be celebrated at St. Regis Church on Parkview Avenue in Oakland on Friday at 9:30 a.m., followed by burial at Calvary Cemetery.
Family members request that donations be sent to the Dan Marino Foundation, P.O. Box 267640, Weston, FL 33326.
First Published December 8, 2008 12:36 am