HUNTINGTON - Former Marshall University assistant football coach Carl Kokor, 85, died Wednesday at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Boardman, Ohio, after an extended illness.
Kokor came to Marshall from the University of Pittsburgh in 1969 and coached at the school through the 1971 season before accepting a job as an assistant coach with a semi-pro football team in Youngstown, Ohio.
Kokor was at Marshall on Nov. 14, 1970, when an airplane carrying most of the football team, supporters and crew returning from a game at East Carolina University crashed at Tri-State Airport, killing all 75 passengers. Kokor and Thundering Herd assistant coach Mickey Jackson were coming back from scouting Ohio University at Penn State when they heard on the radio news of the crash.
The tragedy and rebuilding of the Marshall program in 1971 were the subjects of the 2006 movie, "We Are ... Marshall." Kokor and his wife Rose Mary were interviewed by the producers during the production of the film and spent time on set in Atlanta during filming.
Kokor was born Oct. 9, 1932 in Bazetta, Ohio. He was a 1950 graduate of Niles McKinley High School and served in the United States Army in Japan during the Korean Conflict. He received a bachelor's in Biology from Bowling Green University in 1957 and a master's in Physical Education from Kent State University in 1963.
He began his public-school teaching career in 1957, retiring from teaching Science at the Brookfield Local Schools in 2000 after 27 years. In 1973, Kokor became an assistant coach at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, where he stayed 24 seasons, helping win six NAIA Division II national championships. He retired from coaching in 2000.
Friends and family can visit from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Lane Family Funeral HomesMadasz Chapel, 6923 Warren Sharon Road in Brookfield, Ohio. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place Monday at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Mount Carmel of Niles at 381 Robbins Ave. in Niles, Ohio.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in memory of Carl Kokor to: Westminster College/Titan Football c/o Office of Institutional Advancement Westminster College, 319 South Market Street New Wilmington, PA, or Big Green Scholarship Foundation Marshall University, PO Box 1360 Huntington, WV 25715.