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Donald E. Frey, 87, peacefully passed away on Tuesday November 6, 2018 at his Crystal Lake home. He was the husband of Katherine Nicoll Frey; the couple had been married for 63 years.
Born in Easton, he was the son of the late Quintus Asher and Gladys Seifert Frey. Don, our beloved father, husband, grandfather, coach, mentor, friend, and healer will be missed, but the memory of his kindness, love of family, ability to instill in others the determination and drive to live life in a positive manner, acceptance of differences in people, and caring approach to life’s little surprises will long be remembered. Don was a people person who did not judge arbitrarily and who gave of himself every day.
Wrestling was a big part of Don’s life. In 9th grade, he won second place in the NJSIAA state championships and took first place in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade, one of only 6 students who have done so over the years. While in high school, Don won the 1949 State AAU title, Outstanding Wrestlers Award, and was invited to the Olympic tryouts in Ames, Iowa (he ended up winning the District 111 Olympic competition). He was later inducted into the Sussex County, NJ Hall of Fame.
In college, Frey and twin brother Doug were a part of something no other team in Eastern history had accomplished: winning the 1953 National Championship. Don was co-captain of that Penn State wrestling team. In 1951, he was second in the 145lb weight class. In 1952, illness kept him out of competition, but in 1953, he took third in the Nationals.
Don, a three year NCAA All-American, graduated from Penn State in 1953 with a B.S. in Physical Education and was immediately inducted into the United States Army for 2 years. In 1957, he graduated from the School of Physical Therapy at University of Pennsylvania, becoming one of the first sports medicine professionals to hold a certification in both Athletic Training and Physical Therapy. For several years, he was Department Head of Physical Therapy at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and served as Drexel University’s Head Trainer. In 1960, he became wrestling coach at Penn and head of the Athletic Training Department. Frey coached the Quakers for 9 seasons, overseeing the makings of a wrestling powerhouse. His 61-28-2 record included a 25 match undefeated streak over a period of 2 ½ years. He led the Quakers to their first ever back-to-back Ivy League championships in 1967-68. Fifteen of his wrestlers qualified for the NCAA tournament from ’62-’70. Frey was twice named Rygiel Cup Coach of the Year (‘65, ’68) and was inducted into the University of Pennsylvania Athletic Hall of Fame. Penn State recognized his efforts with the Outstanding Alumni award in 2002.
Over the years at Penn, he gathered a good staff, which in turn brought Penn to the forefront of sports medicine throughout the Ivy League and along the East Coast. Frey’s crowning glory came when he was one of just 30 individuals chosen to serve as Physical Therapists at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, NY. In 2010, Dave Pottruck, a former wrestler and friend, dedicated The Donald E. Frey Athletic Training Center, located in historic Franklin Field on Penn’s campus, to honor his former coach. Dave also funded a scholarship in Frey’s name as did Guy Blynn, who was manager of Don’s teams. Pottruck, a 2-time EIWA champ under Frey said, “Don has made us win for ourselves, for the team, and most of all for Don. Everyone goes out of here a better wrestler and everyone goes out of here a better person.”
He is also survived by a twin brother Douglas and wife Betsy; three daughters and son-in-laws: Jennifer and Doug Dimmig of Shamong, NJ; Molly and Tom Virbitsky of Clifford; and Nell and Jim Striefsky of Clifford; 9 grandchildren: Devin, Kent, and Darci Dimmig, Stephanie, Allison, Jeffrey, and Lily Virbitsky, and Tyler and Sophia Striefsky, along with many nieces, nephews, and friends.
Don was preceded in death by his brothers, Jack and Paul Frey, and his sister, Joan Frey Dunker.
The Donald Frey family would like to express their gratitude to the generous friends, neighbors, and family members who have supported them through this difficult time. They would also like to thank Allied Services Hospice Care for their outstanding care of Don during his final months. In lieu of flowers, please make an effort to do what was effortless for Don: express appreciation for the people in your life, listen intently to others, and see the best in all.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, November 18th from 12-3 PM at Brennan & Brennan Funeral Home, Inc., 55 Lincoln Avenue, Carbondale. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date in Philadelphia.