John Petercuskie, an Old Forge native who went on to football coaching success in high school, college and the National Football League, died April 20 in Centerville, Mass. at the age of 93.
Petercuskie’s funeral was Wednesday in Massachusetts where he lived after retiring to Cape Cod.
The 1942 Old Forge graduate joined the Marine Corps after high school and served honorably in the South Pacific, including Okinawa. After World War II, he returned to East Stroudsburg University where he launched a coaching career by gaining All-American honors on the football field while earning a degree health and physical education and also playing baseball.
Neshaminy High School erected a statue of Petercuskie at the entrance to its stadium to honor his efforts as head football coach where his Redskins had a 51-game unbeaten streak in the early 1960s while going 59-1-5 during his coaching tenure.
Petercuskie coached at Dartmouth College, Boston College, Princeton University, Harvard University and Liberty University before spending eight years with the Cleveland Browns as special teams coach. His coaching exploits landed Petercuskie in the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame and several other Halls of Fame.
On the 2015 night when Jack Henzes became just the 16th high school football coach in the United States to win 400 career games, he cited Petercuskie as one of the four biggest influences on his coaching career, along with his late father John “Papa Bear” Henzes, Pete Cordelli and Joe Paterno.
Petercuskie is survived by his wife of 68 years, the former Dorothy Pritchyk, as well as three sons, seven grandchildren, five great grandchildren and two step grandchildren.