Ray “Dippy” DiPierro, a football standout at Libbey High School and Ohio State University who remained loyal to Green Bay, where he played offensive guard for the Packers, died Sunday in Perrysburg Manor. He was 87.
Mr. DiPierro, formerly of South Toledo, was an assisted living resident of Perrysburg Commons. He had Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, his son Scott said. He continued to attend Ohio State home games last season.
He was past 70 when he retired from a career in sales, his last position with Toledo Memorial Park. “He always called his own shots and was independent his whole life,” his son said.
He was born Aug. 22, 1926, to Myrtle and Ralph DiPierro, and his father operated a wholesale produce business out of the family’s South Kennison Drive home.
He graduated from Libbey in 1944, and his gridiron skills caught the attention of legendary Buckeyes coach Paul Brown, for whom he went through summer practice. He ended up playing for three other coaches and lettering four times, including as a freshman and member of Ohio State’s undefeated conference championship team that year.
He also served stateside in the Army Air Corps near the end of World War II.
After Ohio State, he was signed to play with the Chicago Bears. He ended up instead at Green Bay, where he played 12 games his first season and six his second until injuring an ankle.
So many had trouble pronouncing his name that Packer back Tony Canadeo said, “ ‘Call him Dippy and get it over with,’ ” Mr. DiPierro told The Blade. “So I’ve always been Dippy in Green Bay.”
He was amazed that, win or lose — and the team was 3-9 his two seasons — fans converged on the airport by the thousands to greet their returning team. And for 55 consecutive seasons, he returned for alumni homecoming and other events.
“I was no superstar by any stretch of the imagination,” he told The Blade in 2011, “but they always made me feel like one when I went back.”
After his turn in the NFL, he was a salesman for his father’s firm and dealt with many of Toledo’s top restaurants. He later was a package engineer for a fruit and produce packing division of Inland Container Corp. and sold safety gloves and equipment for Acme Safety Products. He also was a salesman for Ottawa Hills Memorial Park.
“He had the gift of gab and a friendly approach and a trustworthiness,” his son said. “He was just fun and happy and good-hearted and easy going.”
Mr. DiPierro was inducted into the halls of fame of Libbey High, the City Athletic League, and the Toledo chapter of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
He was formerly married to Joyce Allison.
Surviving are his son, Scott DiPierro; daughters, Kim and Lynn DiPierro, and two grandsons.
Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Friday in the Bersticker-Scott Funeral Home. Services will be private. The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Area Humane Society, Heartland Hospice, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.