Joseph D. Sarra, 75, of State College, died Thursday, July 19th, 2012 at The Fairways at 1:30pm.
Born June 9th, 1937, in Fayette City, he was a son of the late Bernard T. and Sara Haggerty Sarra. He married Barbara Benjeski from Duquesne PA on October 29th, 1960, who survives at home.
He is also survived by two sons, Joseph D. Sarra, Jr. and his wife, Diane, of Lebanon, Scott S. Sarra and his wife, Cathy, of Reading, a brother, Bernard Sarra and his wife, Beatrice, of Monesssen and three grandchildren, Kristin, Joseph and Eric.
Joe was a devoted father and husband, as well as a dedicated football coach; helping many young men reach their full potential in business, industry and professional athletics throughout his career of over 40 years.
Joe was a 1955 graduate of Belle Vernon Area High School where he was the senior class president. He graduated from the California University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelors of Science in Education and Guidance, and then proceeded to the University of West Virginia receiving a Master of Arts in Secondary School Administration.
Before going on to a distinguished coaching career, Joe was an outstanding linebacker and fullback for the California Vulcans on the 1958 PSAC championship team that achieved the second of just three undefeated football regular seasons in school history. He also was a catcher and outfielder on the baseball team. In 1961 he became head football and head basketball coach at East Washington (PA) High School. From 1962 through 1966 he was an assistant coach at Hempfield and Belle Vernon High Schools. In 1967, Joe left the Mon Valley area to become head coach at Southern Columbia High School. Next, he landed at Miami of Ohio University as head coach of the freshman team. Leaving that job after one year, he joined the staff at Lafayette College in Easton, PA where he served as an assistant coach for 12 years in rolls as offensive and defensive coordinator. From 1984 through 1999, Joe coached linebackers and the defensive line at Penn State. He coached in 15 major bowl games including the 1986 Fiesta Bowl where Penn State defeated Miami for the National Championship. In 2000, Joe left his on field duties to become an administrative assistant to Joe Paterno until his retirement in 2004.
Joe was a registered PIAA official in football, basketball and baseball and officiated for one year in the American Football League. He was the recipient of numerous awards including the 1992 Michael Duda Award for Athletic Achievement from California University of Pennsylvania. In 1998, Joe received the All-American Football Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Assistant Coaches Who Make a Difference. In 2000, he was inducted into the Bernie Romanoski Chapter Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and the following year he was inducted into the Mid-Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame. In 2002, he was inducted into the Belle Vernon Area Football Hall of Fame. In 2009 he was inducted into the California University of Pennsylvania Athletic Hall of Fame, and in 2010, the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame honored him with the Joseph D. Sarra Community Service Award.
He attended St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and was a member of the Penn State Quarterback Club, the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame Central PA Chapter and the State College Elks Club.
Visitation will be held 5 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at Koch Funeral Home, 2401 S. Atherton St., State College.
A funeral service will be held on Monday, July 23, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the funeral home with Rev. Dr. G. Edwin Zeiders officiating.
Burial will be in Spring Creek Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to: The Joe Sarra Football Scholarship The Foundation for California University of Pennsylvania, PO Box 668, California PA, 15419
The family wishes to thank the doctors, nurses and staff at Brookline and the Home Nursing Agency for their loving care and support.
Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.