John "Jack" D. Pyrah (photo) died on July 19, 2007 at the age of 88. A Gloucester City resident, he was cared for in his home by his loving wife of 50 years, Regina M. (nee Gorman). Loving father of Jack Pyrah of Belmar, William Van Tassel (late Venise) of Turner, Maine, John Van Tassel (Sue) of Richmond, Virginia and Patricia Johnson (James) of Haddonfield. Devoted grandfather of 9 and great-grandfather of 2. Survived by many in-laws, nieces, nephews and cousins.
Mr. Pyrah was born in Germantown, PA, on August 11, 1918 to John and Jane Pyrah. He graduated from Germantown High School in 1937. He began a lifelong interest in Track and Field in 1934 after being taken to the Penn Relay Carnival by a favorite uncle. After falling in love with the aura surrounding the Relays he nurtured that interest in Track and Field. He received his first coaching/managing position with the Shanahan Catholic Club in 1942. He began his 26 year career as Assistant Track and Field Coach and Head Cross Country Coach at Villanova University in 1966.
Pyrah's association with Villanova lasted until his death though his formal retirement occurred in 1991. He helped lead Villanova to 4 NCAA Championships and 8 IC4A Championships. During his tenure there, the track and field team developed many world-class athletes including 17 Olympians.
Pyrah's accolades include his recent admission into the U.S Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the placement of his name on the Wall of Fame at Villanova University, and the naming of the Jack Pyrah Invitational Indoor Meet at the University.
Jack and his wife, Regina, recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
Relatives, friends, Villanova University and members of the Track and Field Community are kindly invited to attend his viewing on Monday Evening from 6 to 8 pm and Tuesday morning from 9 am to 10:30 am at Saint Mary's R.C. Church: 426 Monmouth Street, Gloucester City, NJ 08030. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10:30 am in the church.
Interment New Saint Mary's Cemetery, Bellmawr. There will be no viewing at the funeral home.
Memorial Donations in Jack's memory to the VCLUB: Jack Pyrah Memorial Fund: c/o Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19085-1674 or Saint Vincent DePaul Society: c/o Saint Mary's R.C. Church: 426 Monmouth Street, Gloucester City, NJ 08030. Expressions of sympathy can be e-mailed to the family through the funeral home website www.mccannhealey.com