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John C. "Jack" Gregory, 87, former Villanova football coach

He had a 30-year career in athletics at several schools. dlp/mw

John C. "Jack" Gregory
John C. "Jack" GregoryRead more

MEN AND WOMEN who spend their careers in the sweaty endeavors of coaching, walking the sidelines of dusty fields or prowling the echo chambers of gymnasiums, would be happy for any recognition - like something named for them.

Jack Gregory had two such honors. The football field at East Stroudsburg University and the fieldhouse at Bowling Green State University - institutions to which he lent his athletic leadership skills in more than 30 years of coaching and running athletic programs - were named for him.

Not to mention a scholarship in his and his wife's honor at East Stroudsburg, his alma mater.

John C. "Jack" Gregory Sr., a Delaware County native who coached the Villanova University football team to winning seasons in the '60s, a Navy veteran of World War II, and a devoted family man, died Dec. 4. He was 87.

Jack was most proud of helping to found the Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game for the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens (DFRC) to benefit Delaware residents with intellectual disabilities. He worked with Bob Carpenter Jr., then-owner of the Phillies, in establishing the event for high-school stars.

In his college coaching career, Jack coached and ran athletic programs at East Stroudsburg, the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Rhode Island and Bowling Green State University.

He also was a scout for the Green Bay Packers under Bart Starr for two years, then went to Yale University as associate athletic director.

He retired from coaching at Bowling Green in 1994, and became a consultant to the university president.

Jack was born in East Lansdowne, Delaware County, to Otto J. Gregory Sr. and the former Catherine Schaffer. He attended East Lansdowne High School, where he was an outstanding athlete, lettering in three sports.

He joined the Navy in World War II and served stateside.

After the war, he enrolled at what was then East Stroudsburg State Teachers College. While there, he met his wife, the former Margaret Ann Peacock, a West Chester State Teachers College student.

He liked to relate that he saw her across the long-jump pit at a West Chester vs. East Stroudsburg track meet, in which he was competing, and fell in love.

During his three seasons coaching at Villanova, 1967 to 1969, his teams went 4-6, 6-4 and 6-3. He coached a number of players who went into the National Football League, including receiver Mike Siani (Oakland Raiders); linebacker John Babinecz (Dallas and Chicago), and receiver Bill Walik (Eagles).

Old-timers still talk about Villanova's hard-fought 36-33 win over Delaware in '69, which featured three touchdown catches by Siani.

Jack started his coaching career in Delaware after graduating from East Stroudsburg. He coached football at both William Penn High School and Alexis I. duPont High before going back to his alma mater to coach.

Jack was also an accomplished administrator and innovator. While at Yale, he helped raise money for athletics by starting concerts in the Yale Bowl, featuring such groups as the Eagles, the Cars and the Beach Boys.

As athletic director at Bowling Green, his influence extended beyond coaching. The school won multiple conference championships in both men's and women's sports. His Falcons won the NCAA Divison 1 College Ice Hockey Championship in 1984.

Jack's wife died in March 2013. He is survived by two sons, John C. Jr., a Philadelphia lawyer; and Bruce L., a former wide receivers' coach at Bowling Green; a brother, Otto J. Gregory Jr., and two grandchildren.

Services: Funeral Mass 10 a.m. today at St. Cornelius Church, 160 Ridge Road, Chadds Ford. Friends may call at 6 this evening at the Maris Grove Retirement Community Chapel, 500 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills. Burial will be in Ss. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple.

Contributions may be made to the Peg and Jack Gregory Scholarship Fund, East Stroudsburg University, 200 Prospect St., East Stroudsburg, PA 18301.