Obituary: Francis E. "McGee" Mannion / Former basketball
coach at Bishop Boyle High School
Jan. 12, 1925 - Aug. 16, 2008
Francis E. "McGee" Mannion coached athletic teams at
Bishop Boyle High School and St. Mary Magdalene Grade
School in Homestead for more than four decades,
achieving an extraordinary level of success, but it's
not the wins that most of his former players will
"The simplest word I can use to describe McGee was
kindness," John "Buddy" Hobart, a standout forward on
Mr. Mannion's 1977 WPIAL Class AA runner-up basketball
team, said. "He was the kindest man I've ever met. And
it didn't matter who you were. He treated everybody
Mr. Mannion, 83, a West Homestead resident, died
Saturday from complications following a stroke. He
leaves behind a legacy of winning and a legion of
appreciative former players.
A World War II veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star
for his actions in the European Theater, Mr. Mannion
began his coaching career at St. Mary Magdalene School
after his discharge from the Army in 1946.
He assumed the basketball coaching duties when Bishop
Boyle opened in 1962.
A graduate of Duquesne University, Mr. Mannion stayed
on the job as a history teacher and the only head
basketball coach in the school's history until it was
closed by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh after
1986-87 due to declining enrollment.
In the early years at Boyle, Mr. Mannion also was the
head coach of the football and baseball teams, giving
up the football job in 1967 after four seasons.
It was on the basketball court, however, where he
enjoyed his greatest success.
Early on, Boyle competed in the old Pittsburgh
Catholic Class A League. Although competitive in that
league, its teams under Mr. Mannion enjoyed far more
success once they joined the Western Pennsylvania
Interscholastic Athletic League in 1973. Competing
against schools closer to its enrollment size, Boyle
became a perennial WPIAL playoff contender, winning
six section titles as well as the league and state
Class AA championships in 1982.
But it wasn't just the success on the court that stuck
with his players.
"Let me put it this way, he was the best man at my
wedding and he was the godfather for both of my
children," said Pat Mulligan, a standout player on Mr.
Mannion's first varsity basketball and football teams
at Boyle and a 1966 graduate.
"I met him when I went out for the basketball team at
St. Mary's in fifth grade, and he's been close to me
ever since. A day wouldn't go by that we didn't talk."
Mr. Mulligan moved from Western Pennsylvania to
southern Indiana nine years ago "but we still talked
every day. I never made a move without checking with
Known to most people around the Munhall-Homestead area
simply as "McGee," after old-time radio character
Fibber McGee, from whose closet, when opened, all
sorts of things would come tumbling.
Mr. Mannion's equipment closet had a similar
organization to it and the nickname stuck for the rest
of his life, said one of his sisters, Sister Mary
Vincent Mannion, a member of the religious order of
the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Mr. Mannion never considered himself a great
"As a coach, he just wanted it to be fun for us," Mr.
The closing of Bishop Boyle High School in 1987 marked
the end of Mr. Mannion's formal coaching career, but
his effect on the district high school sports scene
didn't end then. He was hired as a teacher and
athletic director at Oakland Catholic and was
responsible for the hiring of Suzie McConnell Serio,
who is now the women's head coach at Duquesne
University. Mrs. McConnell Serio turned Oakland
Catholic into a perennial state basketball powerhouse
after she was hired in 1990.
"What a great guy he was," she said. "He gave me my
first big chance and I'm forever grateful to him. He
was just a wonderful man."
Many of Mr. Mannion's proteges at Bishop Boyle went on
to become coaches at various levels, the most famous
of which is Mike McCarthy, head coach of the Green Bay
Packers in the National Football League.
"I can honestly say he was the best coach I've ever
been exposed to on any level," Mr. McCarthy said.
"You don't realize that when you're a high school kid.
But he had his teams so well prepared and ready to
play. He preached toughness and discipline.
"Plus, as a guy he'd do anything for you. He'd let us
use his car -- I'm talking about a bunch of high
school kids. He was all about loyalty ... of course,
he expected that loyalty in return. He was one of a
kind and we were blessed to have him."
In addition to Sister Mary Vincent, Mr. Mannion is
survived by two other sisters, Sister Kevin Mary
Mannion and Sister Philomena Mannion, both of the
Sisters of Charity of Greensburg, and a brother,
Visitation will take place today and tomorrow from 2
to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at R.V. Anderson Funeral Home,
315 E. 10th Ave., Homestead. There will also be a
viewing at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Little Sisters
of the Poor, 1028 Benton Ave., Brighton Heights,
followed by a Mass to be celebrated at 11. Burial will
be in Calvary Cemetery.
Terry Shields can be reached at
First published on August 18, 2008 at 12:00 am