Frank S. Blatcher of Havertown, a player on La Salle’s NCAA basketball champions in 1954, died Tuesday of prostate cancer at age 90.
Behind star Tom Gola, the Explorers beat Bradley, 92-74, to win their only NCAA championship. Mr. Blatcher was a starter for the team but could not attend practice before the national semifinal and final because of the death of his father. Nevertheless, he led his team in scoring in both rounds while coming off the bench, totaling 42 points in the two games.
The youngest of 13 children, he grew up in a family of stevedores before becoming one himself. He later worked in sales for Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance.
By the time he arrived at La Salle, Mr. Blatcher was well-traveled, having served in the Navy, where he competed as a boxer and basketball player, which led to his offers to play at Temple and La Salle when he returned to Philadelphia.
“He was a great athlete, but that’s only part of who he was," his daughter Mary Beth Blatcher said. "He was an incredible human being.”
Together with his wife, Margie, Mr. Blatcher founded the St. John Neumann Parish in Bryn Mawr, where his funeral will take place on Tuesday, June 25 at 11 a.m. A visitation from 9-10:45 a.m. will precede the service.
Memorably gregarious, Mr. Blatcher always made sure to satisfy his thirst for competition, first with basketball, then with tennis, and more recently with bridge. On May 21, he celebrated his 90th birthday with family at the beach.
“Magnificent man,” Frank Blatcher said when describing his father. “He helped us define success as making a mark on people’s lives.”