The one recurring scenario in my mind’s eye is of my friend, Dan Algeo as a middle school student. I remember him constantly thanking me during the late-1970’s and early 1980’s for my coverage in The North Penn Reporter of the Lansdale Catholic Crusader football (and the school’s other sports) teams.
We also had in-depth discussions about the Philadelphia Flyers, which was my professional beat for the daily newspaper when I wasn’t covering the Crusaders. Both of us were confident that the Bob Clarke-led Flyers had the personnel and grit to win another Stanley Cup or two. Unfortunately for the orange and white, they ran into a New York Islanders team that was just beginning its own Cup dynasty.
Dan Algeo seemed to possess a maturity far beyond his pre-teenage years, enabling us to talk as football fans and friends at LC football practices and games, and at other sporting and school events. He could discuss the Crusaders, the Flyers and virtually any of Philly’s other pro sports franchises.
Dan passed away at the age of 49 last Thursday, July 3 after suffering a heart attack. The shock has affected legions of people who knew Dan, including the Cardinal O’Hara High School community, where he would’ve coached his 11th season as head football mentor this fall.
The sadness and sense of loss has also hit me across the miles — in suburban Dallas – like a defenseman making a jolting (but clean) open ice body check. Dan Algeo’s loving family and friends will celebrate his life at his funeral in Lansdale, PA tomorrow, Wednesday, July 9.
Even before he attended LCHS, Dan exuded a significant degree of pride in the school’s student-athletes, his dad Jim, Sr. as the head coach, and his brother Jim, Jr. as the on field leader – the quarterback. “Thanks for giving us so much great ink (i.e., newspaper coverage),” he said on numerous occasions in his enthusiastic inflection, always accompanied by that unforgettable ear-to-ear grin that made him an absolute pleasure to visit with. “I love reading about the team, and I know the (student-athletes) do as well.”
He also enjoyed reading my chronicles about the Flyers, to be sure.
It is ironic that my “ink” did not spread to covering Dan’s outstanding football career at Lansdale Catholic, when I left the Delaware Valley to become Public Relations Director for the Central Hockey League’s Fort Worth Texans Hockey Club (the then-Colorado Rockies’ top minor league affiliate) in 1981.
I have remained in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex ever since, and was fortunate to renew my friendship with Dan a few years after he coached Roman Catholic to the 1999 Philadelphia Catholic League football title. In 2004, he repeated the feat to become one of only two Philadelphia Catholic League coaches to win championships with different schools. It was no surprise that Dan had joined his dad Jim, Sr., his brother Jim, Jr. (Pottsgrove High football) and his sister Maggie Algeo DeMarteleire (North Penn High girls basketball) as an outstanding title-winning coach who related so well to student-athletes.
Upon renewing our relationship, we both lamented the Flyers’ lack of a third Stanley Cup conquest.
I quickly found that Dan’s personality was even more endearing, and he continued to thank me for my articles about Lansdale Catholic during that previous era. Dan could relate to virtually everybody, and I know he had a significant impact on his students and student-athletes, on his friends, and especially on each and every one of his family members and relatives.
He also shared some words of comfort with me about me losing my wife, Ilene to cancer in 2009 when we visited, along with several members of his family, in December 2013.
I feel blessed to have known Dan Algeo, and will miss him terribly. I know that he will be in my heart forever.