R.I.P. Dr. John “Coach” Compardo

by Janelle Hill | Feb 02, 2018

“I came from a background of poor and hungry during the Depression in the 1920s, and DeSales University, I’ve said this several times, was a gift to me.

"I cannot ever, ever in my life, express the effect those students had on me when I first met them for gym class. I know that I will never forget you the students; you are my family.”  

-- Dr. John “Coach” Compardo

DeSales University is sad to learn of the passing of Dr. John “Coach” Compardo. Widely recognized as the Father of Athletics, Compardo passed away on January 31 at the age of 97.

"Coach Compardo was a living embodiment of the mission of Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales and now DeSales University to become our best selves by doing the ordinary in an extraordinary way," said Rev. James Greenfield, OSFS '84, president of DeSales University. "Whether teaching physical education, coaching, or counseling, Dr. Compardo was a gentleman who lived life generously and with sensitivity, modeling for his students the core Salesian values of gentleness and humility."

Compardo came to Allentown College in 1965 after coaching football, basketball, and baseball at Allentown Central Catholic High School. He served as the first athletic director and professor of physical education, and was the lifeblood of the athletic department.

“The DeSales athletic department and the entire DeSales community are saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. John Compardo,” says Scott Coval, director of athletics. “Dr. Compardo started athletics — both at varsity and intramural levels — at DeSales. He laid the foundation for all to follow. He was affectionately referred to as ‘Coach’ and, even in retirement, remained an integral part of our athletic department.” 

Coach Compardo’s impact and countless contributions can still be seen around campus. The fitness center in Billera Hall bears his name, and every year the athletic department names the Dr. John Compardo Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

He was also recognized as Teacher of the Year; he received the Father J. Stuart Dooling Distinguished Service Award; and he was inducted into the Lehigh Valley High School Basketball Hall of Fame and the Allentown College Athletic Hall of Fame. Most importantly, he was a profound influence and inspiration to his students.

“Coach Compardo was an incredible mentor and teacher,” says Coval. “He was a true friend of our department. Our coaches and administrators soaked in his wisdom. He will be truly missed but his legacy will forever live on within the DeSales community."

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Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications

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