Alumni and former athletes packed the Esbjornson Gymnasium on a rainy Saturday afternoon to pay tribute to the life of Rowan’s former coach Richard Wackar, who passed away in August.
Speakers at the event included Athletic Director Dan Gilmore, University President Ali Houshmand and school alumni Lee Rochelle, Rory Thomas and Jack Collins, who had all played under Wackar during his career at Rowan.
“Wackar was a man who meant so much to so many at the university,” Gilmore said during his speech.
Collins said there was one key thing he took away from the memorial.
“Everyone here has Coach Wackar in their mind,” Collins said. “What impact he’s had on them. And what comes to me from seeing so many of these people here, knowing many of them, but watching their faces as the speaker spoke, you could just see that he still has an overwhelming presence over all of us.”
Former Cleveland Browns running back Dino Hall played for Coach Wackar from 1976 to 1978.
“He was one of the guys that got things done.” Hall said. “He worked with everybody. Never could take a compliment, because he would always give it back to you. He was a great man.”
In his time at the university, at the then-Glassboro State College, Wackar restarted the football team in 1964, and stayed with the team until 1980, winning multiple conference championships. He also coached basketball, golf and cross-country, leading teams in each of those sports to conference wins as well.
As a result, he is recognized as the only coach in New Jersey Athletic Conference history to win conference titles in four sports. For his success in coaching, Wackar was inducted into the Rowan University-Glassboro State College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.
Aside from his many accomplishment on the field, he was just as well-known around the college. He was a professor at the school, and was notable for writing brainteasers and riddles to try and stump students.
After he retired, Wackar was still active in the campus scene. He could be found on home game days tailgating with the Brown & Gold Gridiron Club behind the scoreboard at the football field.
John Bunting, who played in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and coached the football team at Glassboro State College from 1988 to 1992, had nothing but good things to say about the impact Coach Wackar had on people’s lives.
“The man was a privilege to know,” Bunting said. “He was a classic human being, and would have been great at any type of responsibility [or] leadership role that he ever would’ve encountered. Fortunately, we got to know him here at Glassboro State.”
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