1932 - 2006
Daniel J. Distasio, 73, of Phillips Street, Nanticoke, passed away Sunday at Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre.
Born on November 9, 1932, in Nanticoke, he was a son of the late Daniel and Helen Stankiewicz Distasio.
Dan served two years in the Navy and two years in the Marines. After attaining his bachelors degree from Kings College, he continued on to earn his masters degree equivalency.
Daniel was a teacher for 33 years at Nanticoke High School and was a former football coach for 12 years. He also coached girls volleyball, track and Wilkes Linebackers. He was an avid Yankee, Wilkes-Barre Penguins, Nanticoke Area Trojans and Crestwood Comets sports fan.
He was preceded in death by his brother Raymond.
Surviving are his wife of 49 years, the former Gertrude Piepon; daughter Deborah Disabatino, Mountain Top; sons Daniel Jr., Mountain Top; Jeff, Rochester, NY; Steven, Mountain Top; brother Richard, North Carolina; and grandchildren Dominick, Cassie, Jenna, Nico, Maddie, Danny III, Katie, Devon, Raegan, Stephanie and Derek.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 9 a.m. from the Earl W. Lohman Funeral Home, 14 W. Green St., Nanticoke, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 9:30 a.m. in Holy Trinity Church, with the Rev. James Nash officiating.
Interment will be in the Chapel Lawn Cemetery, Dallas. Friends may call this evening from 5 to 8 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the Daniel J. Distasio Memorial Scholarship Fund is being created to provide an athletic/academic scholarship to a deserving senior student from both Nanticoke Area and Crestwood Area High Schools. Donations are to be made to the Daniel J. Distasio Memorial Fund, c/o Luzerne Foundation, 613 Baltimore Dr., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702.
When the Middle States Association was going to evaluate Nanticoke Area High School, John Gregorowicz had been principal for less than three months. Its accreditation would validate the schools curriculum and be the mark of a quality education.
You can realize the bind I was in. I was trying to find someone who would take the bull by the horns and be my right-hand man, Gregorowicz said. I sorta conned him into taking the chairmanship.
Not that Distasio, who died Sunday, wouldve needed much conning.
By all accounts, Distasio valued textbooks as much as tackling, and genuinely valued his students lives on and off the gridiron. Why else would he have spearheaded the effort to establish Nanticokes first honors society.
He would always tell his football players, footballs fun, footballs nice, but you gotta have an education, Gregorowicz said.
That point of view helps explain how 27 of Distasios players were named to the All-Scholastic team in his 12 years as Nanticoke coach. His football-coaching skill explains the rest. From the 1965-1977 seasons, Distasio compiled a 96-56-6 record and won four Wyoming Valley Conference championships 1967-68, and 1976-77. In addition, he was named Coach of the Year in 1967 and 1977.
But for Distasio, football was about the players.
He made mediocre players play over their heads, and when you can accomplish that type of feat, in my book, youre more than a coach, Frank Galicki said.
Galicki made Pennsylvanias Big 33 team while playing for Distasio, and is now Dallas school districts superintendent. Distasios influence, he said, was one of the major reasons he became motivated to enter the education field.
Distasios own motivation might have rubbed off. He is a man with almost too many qualities to describe family man, humorist, golfer but his own desire and discipline compliments them all.
He went all-out for kids in the classroom and on the field, Gregorowicz said. When people need help, hes there.
Whether hes conned into it or not.Funeral arrangements are pending from Earl W. Lohman Funeral Home in Nanticoke.