October 15, 2018 04:53 PM
Family, friends and former players gathered Monday in Collegeville to say farewell to John Gagliardi.
Funeral services for the legendary St. John's football coach, who died at age 91 early on Oct. 7, were held at the Abbey Church on campus.
He coached at St. John's from 1953 through 2012, winning four national championships. And his 489 career victories and 64 seasons total as a head coach at the college level both rank as the most in college football history.
Those on hand Monday listened to scripture readings and sang songs, as well as hearing from speakers including his son Jim, who stole a line from his father to explain how fortunate he was to have heard so many people tell him what he meant to them over the years.
"With all this amazing outpouring and all these great stories, a guy should have the decency to be dead," Jim Gagliardi said to laughter.
"That was one of my Dad's favorite lines. And it was really true. He got to hear so many great things."
Jim Gagliardi also drew laughs when he joked with the priest about the length of the proceedings.
"I was under the impression this was going to be more like a 15-minute team Mass. I could see my Dad looking at you in the back," he said pointing at his watch.
The funeral capped a weekend of tributes to Gagliardi, including a moment of silence prior to Saturday's St. John's/St. Thomas game in Collegeville - a matchup the Johnnies won 40-20.
"Seeing all the stories and posts about John on social media this week, it's been like one long wake," longtime Johnnies fan Harry Burns said in a packed tailgate lot prior to Saturday's game.
"Seeing so many of his former players and hearing their stories has been great. Some of them I've heard before. Some of them I haven't. But it's just nice to see so many people remembering him," he said.
Kevin Doran and Frank Rajkowski
Updated: October 15, 2018 04:53 PM
Created: October 15, 2018 04:04 PM
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