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Published: Tuesday, 1/29/2008

Central basketball star played at Notre Dame

Gerald L. McCloskey, 76, who played basketball at both Central Catholic High School and the University of Notre Dame before becoming a coach, died Sunday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

Mr. McCloskey of Walbridge suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for years and died of pneumonia, Joan McCloskey, his wife of 53 years, said.

Mr. McCloskey won first team All-Ohio honors as a basketball star at Central Catholic, and he played on scholarship for four years at Notre Dame before graduating in 1953.

"He was very good - and tall," Mrs. McCloskey said of her 6-foot 4-inch husband, who towered a foot over her.

His children, though, primarily learned from their humble father first-hand accounts of what Boston Gardens and the Harlem Globetrotters were like. Others filled them in on how well he played basketball, one of his sons, Kevin McCloskey, said.

"He wouldn't say a lot about what he did," he said.

Born to Joseph and Isabelle McCloskey in Toledo on May 7, 1931, Mr. McCloskey served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. He was on active duty and in the reserves, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel after 25 years.

Mr. McCloskey worked for 33 years at Macomber High School, where he was a general science teacher for the first several years. He also coached basketball before switching to football, a sport he also played at Central Catholic, Mrs. McCloskey said.

In 1970, Mr. McCloskey was named Coach of the Year after his football team became Toledo City League champions.

Mr. McCloskey later became athletic director at Macomber and dean of boys. He was a member of the Central Catholic Athletic Hall of Fame and the Toledo City League Hall of Fame.

Mrs. McCloskey, who met her future husband in grade school, said he loved coaching. All eight of their children played sports, she said.

Kevin McCloskey said his father always enjoyed sports, and he followed in his footsteps by coaching recreationally.

"He loved it so much that basically he made a career out of it," Kevin McCloskey said. "He was a really good role model."

He added: "He was a very dedicated coach, very dedicated person, very strong person."

Mrs. McCloskey said her husband, a founding member of St. Jerome Catholic Church in Walbridge, was loving and easygoing.

"He always liked to tell jokes. He thought he was really funny," she said with a laugh. "Sometimes he was, sometimes he wasn't."

Surviving are his wife, Joan McCloskey; sons, Michael, Kevin, and Brian; daughters, Jennifer Kiss, Jacqueline McCloskey, and Melissa McCloskey, and 11 grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow at Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Walbridge. Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Jerome Catholic Church.

The family suggests tributes to St. Jerome Catholic Church or the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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