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William Logue, Hall of Fame Drexel swimming and diving coach, dies at 86

A member of the sports Hall of Fame at both Drexel and Slippery Rock universities, Mr. Logue was named the 1979 national women’s swim coach of the year.

Mr. Logue and wife Joan were married for 52 years.
Mr. Logue and wife Joan were married for 52 years.Read moreCourtesy of the family

William Logue, 86, of Ponce Inlet, Fla., the longtime swimming and diving coach at Drexel University, died Tuesday, Dec. 1, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at Halifax Health Hospice near his home.

A member of the Hall of Fame at both Drexel and Slippery Rock University, Mr. Logue was a natural athlete and teacher who shared an infectious laugh and innate knowledge of sports with pupils in grade school through college. He coached at Drexel for 23 years, retiring in 1991. His men’s and women’s swim teams routinely won or finished second in their conference.

In 1979, he was named the national swim coach of the year by the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, after his team finished second nationally in its division.

“He was not the best organizer,” said Barb Kilgour-Cleghorn, who coached with Mr. Logue at Drexel for most of his career. “But he could give a pep talk. He had quite a personality. He would get the team together before the meets and tell them they could do it. And the kids believed it.”

Mr. Logue was born in Meyersdale, Pa., and graduated in 1955 from Slippery Rock, where he earned a degree in physical education and won 10 varsity letters in soccer, diving, and track. He met his future wife, synchronized swimmer Joan Hughes, at a pool in San Antonio, and they were married for 52 years until her death in 2009.

After serving in the U.S. Army, where he again excelled in soccer and diving, he got his master’s degree in physical education from West Chester University. His family lived in Malvern and then Newtown Square, and he worked as a gym teacher and football coach in the Tredyffrin Easttown School District. He was also the swimming and diving coach at the Great Valley and East Whiteland swim clubs.

Mr. Logue joined the Drexel faculty in 1968 and served as the swimming and diving coach, associate professor of physical education, freshman football coach, and assistant track coach. By the end of his coaching career, he had piled up a record of 242-56 and five championships with the men’s swim team, and a 64-7 record and six championships in seven seasons with the women.

“He was a great recruiter for Drexel,” Kilgour-Cleghorn said. “He believed in the university, and he made everyone else believe in it, too.”

Mr. Logue was drawn to water throughout his life. He was an acrobatic diver for a time on the famous Steel Pier in Atlantic City. He had a cabin in the Poconos near Lake Jamie, where he would retreat with family and friends to boat, swim, and walk the shoreline. He retired in Ponce Inlet, just south of Daytona Beach, because the Atlantic Ocean was nearby.

Mr. Logue was a fierce competitor who took games of P-I-G and shuffleboard against his son Bill as seriously as he did his swim team championships. Many of his former swimmers and divers recalled his sincerity, warmth, and authenticity in online tributes.

“Coach Logue created such a great culture with the men’s and women’s teams, one that has lasted in lifelong friendships and memories that I cherish today,” one former swimmer wrote.

He embraced the Roman Catholic tradition and was a daily communicant for much of his life. He was a constant caregiver for his wife as she battled lung cancer, and he spent the last week of his life in hospice with his son solidifying their connection.

“It was quite beautiful to see him with my mother, and those last seven days were a gift to me,” Bill Logue said. “Throughout his life he showed his Irish charm and had a twinkle in his eyes.”

In addition to his son, Mr. Logue is survived by daughter Kathy, two granddaughters, and other family members and friends.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association: