Kocevar loved the challenge of teaching
The possibility of serving during World War II delayed Carl Kocevar's collegiate career.
An injury ended his gridiron days.
But Kocevar is proudest of his fulfilling teaching career.
A North Charleroi native, Kocevar graduated from Valley Forge prep school in 1946.
When he turned 18 in September 1945, Kocevar was prepared to go into the Army. He was told, though, to report after he graduated from high school in June 1946.
A football standout, Kocevar had been interviewed by some colleges during his junior year in high school. But he did not apply to any colleges because World War II was ongoing and he thought he would be headed to the war after graduating. The war ended as he completed his senior year in high school and then-President Harry Truman declared a draft holiday.
It was thus too late to apply for most colleges by then. But one of Kocevar's teammates at Valley Forge was attending the University of Georgia. He encouraged Kocevar to apply.
There, Kocevar played freshman football. He was a center at Valley Forge, but the 5-11, 160 pound Kocevar was converted to cornerback at Georgia. He tore ligaments in his ankle, ending his football career.
After earning his bachelor's degree, Kocevar enrolled in graduate school when the Korean War broke out. He was called into service.
He attended boot camp at Fort Jackson, S.C. then served at Fort Bragg, N.C. and Camp Atterbury, Ind.
After being discharged from the Army in 1953, he completed his post-graduate studies on a GI Bill, earning a master's degree and doctorate in education from West Virginia University.
Kocevar taught social studies and government for 32 years at Fallowfield Township Junior High School and then Charleroi Area High School. He retired in 1992.
“I liked when the smart kids asked questions,” Kocevar sad. “They challenged me.”
He met his wife, Irene, in 1950 at a show at the Vets Club in Charleroi while home during his senior year at Georgia. They dated for nearly two years before marrying at Valley Forge in December 1951.
They were married 58 years when she died Jan. 1, 2010.
The couple had three children. His daughter, Karen, is a teacher in the Mt. Lebanon School District. His son, Frank, an attorney, resides in Shadyside. His daughter, Diana, lives in Manhattan and works for an upscale women's clothing store.
Kocevar noted he was born during the “Roarin' 20s,” recalls the Great Depression and World War II, and served during the Korean War era. But he is proudest of the students he taught.
“I wouldn't change a thing,” Kocevar said. “A lot of teachers got uneasy when they got a challenge from a student. I didn't.
“I liked the challenge and I had good students. My way was always to open the discussion by posing a question of the students.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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