Former Hawkeye Assistant Coach Whitey Piro Passes Away

April 19, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa – – Former University of Iowa assistant football coach H.W. “Whitey” Piro passed away at his home in Iowa City Monday. Piro was 93 years old.

Piro was an assistant coach at Iowa from 1952 to 1965, serving under Forest Evashevski and Jerry Burns. During his career at Iowa he coached six All-American ends, one academic All-American end and 10 professional football draft choices while helping the Hawkeyes win three Big Ten championships and two Rose Bowl games.

From 1966 to his retirement in 1985 he worked at the UI Personnel Department under Fred Doderer, where he developed the “Hawkeye Recruiter”. He served as an area scout for the Buffalo Bills in 1966 and the New York Giants in 1967.

Among his Iowa City community and civic activities, Whitey was a past president of the Iowa City School Board, the Iowa City Booster Club and the Noon Kiwanis. He served on the boards of the Iowa City Senior Center, Goodwill of the Heartland and was honored as Sertoma Club Man of the Year. Whitey was a member of the Presidents Club at the University of Iowa. He served on the Johnson County Handicapped Committee. Whitey was a member of First Presbyterian Church where he had served as Elder and Deacon.

Piro attended Syracuse University where he was a three-year football starter at end and a senior co-captain for Coach Ossie Solem. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the Syracuse University Varsity Club. Whitey graduated with a Business Administration degree and played football with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1941. At his passing he was the 11th oldest surviving NFL alumnus. In 1942, he was an assistant football coach at Syracuse University under Ossie Solem, who served as Iowa’s head football coach from 1932-36.

After service as a Sgt. in the Air Force Piro resumed his football coaching career at The Citadel under Quinn Decker, where he was also the head basketball coach. While at The Citadel, Whitey married Grace Helene Clark on June 20, 1947 at the Methodist Church in Floral Park, Long Island. From 1949 to 1951 he was an assistant football coach at the University of Utah under Ike Armstrong and “Cactus” Jack Curtice.

Whitey was born on December 20, 1917 in Nordholz, Germany to Heinrich and Alma (Schroeder) Piro. He immigrated with his parents to the United States when he was three years old. He grew up in Floral Park, Long Island, N.Y. where he helped his widowed Mother raise his two younger brothers. He graduated from Sewanhaka High School in 1937 where he was captain of his football, basketball, baseball and track teams. He was also his class president for three years and was inducted into the Sewanhaka Hall of Fame.

Whitey is survived by his wife, four sons and two grandchildren; Steve (Karen) and their children Allison and Blake of Plano, Texas, John of Iowa City, Doug (Susanna) of Southaven, Mississippi and Andy of Iowa City. Whitey was preceded in death by his parents and his two younger brothers Ossie and John.

A visitation will be held Thursday, April 21 from 4-8 p.m. at Lensing Funeral Home, 605 Kirkwood Ave., in Iowa City. A service of remembrance will be held Friday morning, April 22 at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 2701 Rochester Ave., in Iowa City.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be director to Goodwill of the Heartland, 1410 S. 1st Ave., Iowa City, Iowa, 52240, the First Presbyterian Church Memorial Fund, 2701 Rochester Ave., Iowa City, Iowa, 52245, or the Whitey and Grace Piro Football Scholarship at the UI Foundation, One West Park Road, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242.