By all accounts, Joe Krivak was a special kind of person, especially when it came to his students.
Krivak was a teacher and coach at Weirton Madonna High School during the 1960s, where he racked up a 45-21-2 record as head football coach, with teams earning two Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championships and one West Virginia Catholic Schools title.
But, perhaps, what he will be be remembered most for is his dedication to all students, doing what he could to guide them toward becoming better people, not just athletes.
Krivak died on Christmas Day at the age of 77 following a battle with leukemia. He leaves behind his wife, three children and two grandchildren, and a long list of former students influenced by his teachings.
His approach to life and education could be seen in his own career. He played football and baseball for Syracuse, but also earned a bachelor's degree in history science in 1957 and a master's in education in 1961.
As Al Boniti, one of Krivak's former students and now the principal at St. Joseph the Worker Grade School, said "He was a good teacher all around. He taught you about sports and about life."
Krivak was the type of coach who would work to make his players better on and off the field. If a student couldn't make the grade, he would send them for tutoring and they wouldn't be able to play until they had improved in the class.
This guidance helped to lead many Madonna students to good college careers; several at his own college alma mater.
Some of those students included Bill Zanieski, Paul Paolisso and Chuck Boniti. Others, such as Dan McCune, a local attorney who attended the U.S. Naval Academy, would find themselves the beneficiaries of his assistance years after Krivak left Madonna.
Krivak took the same approach with him during his college coaching tenures at Syracuse, the U.S. Naval Academy and Maryland, molding athletes and non-athletes alike and preparing them for their future.
Among those NFL players to learn from him were Boomer Esiason, Frank Reich, Stan Gelbaugh, Neil O'Donnell, Scott Zolak and Scott Milanovich.
In an age where, for many students, there is nothing beyond the athletic field, we wish there were more Joe Krivaks in this world to help guide us all.
We send our deepest sympathies to the Krivak family and to all those who knew him.