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Longtime coach 'touched a lot of lives'

| Saturday, June 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Elmer Bernard “Coach Guckert” Guckert, 84, of McCandless Township, died peacefully Thursday, June 6, 2013, and went onto glory, with his family by his side.

As a coach, Elmer Guckert showed high school athletes the meaning of success.

Through it all, “he touched a lot of lives,” said his daughter Sarah Rizzitano.

“Certainly the players ... he really tried to keep them out of trouble and going in a good direction,” she said. “(He) encouraged them.”

Elmer Bernard Guckert of McCandless, an inductee into the Western Pennsylvania Hall of Fame, died on Thursday, June 6, 2013. He was 84.

A 1947 graduate of Oliver High School, Mr. Guckert lettered in basketball and baseball. He attended the University of Pittsburgh and majored in education, later earning a master's degree in education in 1957.

Mr. Guckert played baseball as a left-handed pitcher. He played with sandlot teams in Pittsburgh and in a farm league for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He worked at Shanksville-Stonycreek High School and the former Fifth Avenue and Brashear high schools where he taught physical education, driver's education and health and coached basketball, swimming, baseball and cross country.

Team triumphs included 10 city championship basketball teams, two state championship basketball teams and three city championship cross country teams.

“He liked to be around kids and to help kids and be a role model,” Rizzitano said. “He was very involved with his kids that he taught and his basketball players and tried to help them.”

Mr. Guckert also was a referee and an umpire, sometimes calling two baseball games a day.

“He played sports all his life. He played in high school, basketball and baseball and lettered,” his daughter said. “He'd scream and yell at the TV, always coaching.”

Mr. Guckert served two years in the Army at Fort Knox, Ky., beginning in 1953, and led athletics on the base.

An active member of Christ Episcopal Church, Mr. Guckert volunteered with Meals on Wheels and was a 50-year Mason and Shriner.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Gloria J. Guckert. In addition to his daughter Sarah Rizzitano, he is survived by his children, Kathy Allison, Karen Morris and Jim Guckert, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Christ Episcopal Church, 5910 Babcock Blvd., Ross. Interment will follow at Allegheny County Memorial Park.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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