Gorman: Steel Valley's biggest benefactor to be missed
Bill Campbell had never formally met Ed Wehrer, but they shared commonalities as senior class presidents and captains of the football team who played in the Ivy League.
Upon formal introduction, Campbell put Wehrer in a headlock and dragged him over to introduce him to friends.
It was the beginning, as they say, of a beautiful friendship.
Campbell became Steel Valley's biggest benefactor. What started with a check for $11,200 to fund new video equipment for the football team Wehrer coached resulted in donations of $30 million to the school district and community through the Campbell Educational and Community Foundation.
On Monday, William V. Campbell Jr., a giant from Steel Valley to Silicon Valley, lost his battle with cancer. He was 75.
“Bill was this unusual mix of athletic toughness, academic brilliance and work ethic that can't be adequately described, charismatic and caring in nature,” said Wehrer, now Steel Valley's superintendent. “The man was a machine, a force of nature. He never forgot us.”
Campbell, a Homestead native, never forgot where he came from. He donated $1 million for renovations to the football stadium named for his father, Steel Valley's former superintendent, so the Ironmen could play on Friday nights, and millions more to the district for technological improvements.
“We would be struggling to maintain the school district, period,” Wehrer said, “if not for his commitments and generosity.
“Bill had a gift of making you feel like you were a special person and a new friend of his within two minutes of meeting him — even if he didn't put you in a headlock.”