Charles "Buddy" Donnelly was the captain and point guard for La Salle's 1952 NIT champions. Then-freshman Tom Gola was the star and leading scorer, but, in the team picture, Donnelly is in the middle of the front row, with a basketball in front of him.
"He was a very good player and a real nice guy," said Speedy Morris, the winningest coach in La Salle history.
Donnelly died Sunday at age 81. After graduation, Donnelly was the player/coach of the U.S. Army's Fort Belvoir (Va.) basketball team that included Duke All-America Dick Groat, who went on to baseball fame with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team won the 1953 All-Army Tournament.
Donnelly also coached Father Judge High, going 100-30 in nine seasons; the Camden Bullets, of the Eastern League; and St. Joseph High in Hammonton, N.J.
In addition to coaching, Donnelly was an insurance salesman.
"Buddy meant a lot to the La Salle community as a member of the 1952 NIT champions," director of athletics Tom Brennan said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."
La Salle finished 25-7 in 1951-52 and beat Dayton 75-64 in the NIT championship game.
Morris said Donnelly used to come around for functions when he coached the La Salle team.
"He was a member of the Blue Chip Club for a couple of years, always positive," Morris said.
Donnelly, who was inducted into the La Salle Hall of Athletes in 1992, is survived by his wife, Mary, and three children, Michael, Robert and Stacy. He was predeceased by his first wife, Alice. A viewing will be Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Joseph A. Quinn Funeral Home, 5358 Roosevelt Blvd. The funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Saint Martin of Tours Church, 5450 Roosevelt Blvd.