General News

Petro Peter “Pat” Stark, Award-Winning Coach, Was 90

WALWORTH, NY – Petro Peter "Pat" Stark passed away on June 19 at the age of 90, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.

He was predeceased by his parents, Gus and Kiratca Stark; sisters, Theopesty (Theodore) Vangellow and Athen Copanus; and brothers Michael and Louis (Sandy) Stark. He is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Catherine Stark; his children, Peter, Rick (Kathy) Stark and Kathleen (Peter) Landers; grandchildren, Jacqueline (Jeff) Heeder, Danny, Bryan, Michael, Katelyn; great-grandson, Jaimesyn; sister-in-law, Ann Stark; and many nieces and nephews.

Stark was born and raised in Syracuse, NY. His parents were the owners of Stark's Bakery in Syracuse. Stark delivered bread for his father while attending Syracuse Vocational High School. He survived polio at the age of 11.

Stark and his brothers were high school sports legends in Syracuse. Pat was a standout high school football, basketball, and baseball player. He scored 78 points in a high school basketball game in 1949, the third highest single-game total in New York State history.

Stark attended Stanton Military Academy in Virginia on a scholarship prior to being awarded a football scholarship to Syracuse University in 1950. During his three seasons as the starting varsity quarterback, Stark set several school records, including most touchdown passes in a game, and helped guide the Orangemen to their first postseason game in school history – the 1953 Orange Bowl. During his senior season, Pat was named to Red Grange's All-America Team and was chosen to participate in the prestigious East-West Shrine All-Star Game. College Football Hall of Fame Coach, Ben Schwartzwalder, called Stark the best quarterback he coached in his 25 seasons at Syracuse.

After his stellar collegiate career, Stark was selected in the second round of the 1954 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but was called by his country for military service. He served in the Army at Fort Dix from 1954-56. Coaching was Stark's calling and he returned to his alma mater in 1956 to join Schwartzwalder's staff as an assistant. Three years later, he helped Syracuse win the national championship in football, and participated in the team reunions ever since.

Stark went on to coach at the University of Rhode Island and Harvard University and was the primary play-caller in Harvard's stirring comeback against Yale in the classic 29-29 tie game in 1968. Despite receiving offers from Division I schools, Stark chose to accept the head coaching position at the University of Rochester in 1969 so he could be close to family and coach Division III student-athletes. His coaching career at the University of Rochester spanned 1969-82, where he led the Yellowjackets to a 69-64-3 record. In 1971, Rochester Mayor Stephen May issued a proclamation to Stark acknowledging the 1971 team's eight-game winning streak and outstanding season. Stark was an inspiration, mentor, and life coach for his players and the coaches that followed him.

After his retirement, Stark served briefly as the school's athletic director and started the University of Rochester Athletics Hall of Fame.

Among Stark's many honors: Induction into the Greater Syracuse Hall of Fame in 1995, the University of Rochester Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000, the Frontier Field Walk of Fame in 2000, and the Order of AHEPA Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1991, he was named a Letter Winner of Distinction at Syracuse University, and in 2013 received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Rochester.

The Pat Stark Endowed Fund for Football was established in 2014 to honor his legacy. He was revered by his many U of R players who held an annual coaches' dinner in his honor.

Stark was a dedicated parishioner at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. He cherished his time with his family and friends. He had many hobbies including refinishing antiques, reading history books and his many tours to Normandy, France.

The family would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) for the medical care and support that Stark received over the past years.

The visitation was held June 22, with the Trisagion Service, at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 962 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607, where his Funeral Service was held on June 23. Interment at White Haven Memorial Park. Standard COVID-19 procedures applied with masks required.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Stark may be directed to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church or Pat Stark Endowed Fund for Football or URMC Internal Medicine, University of Rochester Office of Gift and Donor Records, 300 East River Road, Box 270032, Rochester, NY 14627. To share a memory or photo, visit www.anthonychapels.com.


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