Edward Magliocco, who led Dobbins High School as principal from 1971 to 1993, was an innovator who fought hard for his students, including local basketball luminaries Dawn Staley, Hank Gathers, Bo Kimball, and Doug Overton.

He was a South Philadelphia kid who grew up on Wharton Street, the son of Samuel, a shoemaker, and Angelina, a schoolteacher. Mr. Magliocco attended Central High School and earned degrees at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Magliocco, 89, died Wednesday, May 6, of complications from COVID-19.

His career began as a math teacher, and his status as an early adopter of technology propelled him into teaching computer programming. He served first as a department chair, then as a vice principal and principal at Dobbins, a vocational school in North Philadelphia, where he also coached football, golf, basketball, and baseball.

Mr. Magliocco was among the first high school computer science teachers in Pennsylvania. In the 1980s, he won for Dobbins a grant to place a computer lab at the school.

“He had this dream of having a computer lab for high school students at a time when that was unheard of,” said son Stephen.

To students, “Mr. Mag” was “an amazing, amazing person who put his arms around us, gave us all the support we needed,” said Overton, a 1987 Dobbins graduate, who went on to star at La Salle University and play in the NBA for 11 seasons. The principal treated everyone the same — the basketball stars and the cosmetology students.

Mr. Magliocco wasn’t imposing physically, but he had a presence, and teenagers respected him. He loved the students, and they knew it.

“You didn’t want to let him down,” Overton said.

When Mr. Magliocco was studying for a certification at the State University of New York at Oswego, he was recognized by the instructor of one of his classes not because they had met before, but because the instructor recognized the Philadelphia educator as being mentioned in the textbook the class was using, Stephen Magliocco said.

“Occasionally the instructor would teach something, then look to my father to make sure it was correct,” his son said.

Mr. Magliocco was a hard worker whose love for his family ran deep; for many years, he spent long days as Dobbins principal, drove home to Havertown for a quick dinner, then headed back to the city two nights a week to serve as principal of Dobbins’ night school. He never complained about the demands. He loved his work.

“He worked two jobs just to make sure that his family never needed anything,” said Stephen Magliocco.

Mr. Magliocco retired from the Philadelphia School District in 1993 and thoroughly enjoyed his post-retirement life — golfing, rooting for every Philadelphia sports team, traveling, and spending time with his family.

He was heavily involved in Alpha Phi Delta, the fraternity he joined in 1950 as a Temple student, for most of his life. From 1996 to 1998, he was executive vice president of the fraternity’s Delaware Valley Alumni Club.

Mr. Magliocco was a juried artist who taught himself French by listening to tapes during his commutes, then planned a trip to France using his new skills.

He had a wall full of awards but was grounded, his son said.

Mr. Magliocco’s eyesight suffered in recent years, but his spirits dimmed little. He contracted COVID-19 in April, and died at Lankenau Hospital less than two weeks later.

“This disease is remorseless,” Stephen Magliocco said.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 67 years, Elizabeth; son Edward; two grandchildren; and a brother. He was predeceased by a daughter, Judith.

The family plans a memorial service at a later date.

— Kristen A. Graham, kgraham@inquirer.com