Ex-Waynesburg coach, Pitt assistant Wiley dies

Jerry DiPaola
| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

He had a smile for everyone he met and several stories to tell about Mike Ditka, but in Waynesburg, John Wiley is remembered for much more.

“If there is one word I would use to describe John, it's integrity,” said Waynesburg University president Tim Thyreen said. “Everyone who knew him loved him.”

Wiley, the most successful coach in Waynesburg history who later served as an assistant at Pitt, died Monday in Rock Hill, S.C. He was 92.

Born and raised on the family farm in Wind Ridge, Greene County, Wiley devoted much of his life to Waynesburg, where John F. Wiley Stadium was renamed in his honor in 1995. He also served on the board of trustees for more than 30 years until his death.

Wiley played tackle for Waynesburg and appeared in the first televised game in U.S. history against Fordham at Randall's Island, N.Y.

Wiley served in the Army during World War II, rising to the rank of captain.

He played for the Steelers and coaches Jock Sutherland and John Michelosen from 1946-50, and he was remembered by team chairman Dan Rooney as contributing to one of the team's most successful pre-Super Bowl periods.

“John was a fine player who had five great years with the Steelers,” Rooney said. “He contributed much for the Steelers as an offensive lineman.”

After he retired, Wiley was named head coach and athletic director at Waynesburg. He stayed there from 1951-54, compiling a .710 winning percentage (22-9-1), the best in school history.

He also was the first Waynesburg coach to defeat neighboring rival Washington & Jefferson. Waynesburg owns only two other victories against W&J in 40 games. “Those players, they deeply loved him,” Thyreen said.

Wiley left Waynesburg to become an assistant at Pitt, where he is credited with recruiting Ditka and Marty Schottenheimer.

Wiley left coaching in 1961 to become a salesman and later regional manager for the L.G. Balfour Jewelry & Taylor Publishing Company.

Wiley is survived by his wife, Helen Grace McColgin, of Apollo; a sister, Peggy Moran, of Waynesburg; three children; 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

A private family memorial service will be held at noon Friday in Rock Hill. The family is requesting memorial donations be made to The East Gateway to Wiley Stadium Fund, Waynesburg University, 51 W. College Street, Waynesburg, Pa. 15370.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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