July 14, 2009

Former BU Swim Coach Eli McLaughlin Passes Away

Obituary that will appear in paper

From the comfort of his home in Main Township, Eli W. McLaughlin, 77, left this earth on July 13, 2009 to be welcomed into eternity by his Lord Jesus Christ. After being diagnosed last August with Stage IV pancreatic cancer metastasized to the liver, Eli chose to follow an alternative protocol exclusively. With his wife's vigilant support, he defied all the medical odds and remained hearty and symptom-free for nearly nine months.

Eli was born October 3, 1931 near Berwyn, Chester County, Pennsylvania, the youngest of 12 children of Mildred (Wells) and Eli A. McLaughlin. Eli is survived by his wife of nearly 52 years, Patricia (Repash), his daughter Beth, her husband Darren Laubach and son Dean, 13, of Bloomsburg, his daughter Jane, her husband Mark Brown of Mount Dora, Florida, his sister-in-law Betsy Repash and her husband Richard Leidigh of Solomons, Maryland, his sister Pauline Johnson of West Chester, brother Wilbur of Philadelphia, and numerous relatives. Eli was predeceased by brothers Herbert, Warren, Earl, Leroy, and Raymond and sisters Dorothy, Evelyn, Gladys,and Irene.

In 1949, Eli graduated from Tredyffrin-Easttown High School in Berwyn and then served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and was honorably discharged in late 1951. Eli went on to receive his Bachelor's Degree in 1957 and Masters Degree in 1962 from West Chester State Teacher's College (now University). He also pursued graduate work at Pennsylvania State University, Bucknell University, and took part in a doctoral program at West Virginia University in 1969-1970.

From 1957-1961, Eli served as a teacher and coach at Penncrest High School in Media. From 1961 until his retirement in 1986, Eli served as Associate Professor of Health and Physical Education at Bloomsburg University where he was also the Men's Head Swimming Coach. Eli had also served as the Football Line Coach 1961-63 and Assistant Baseball Coach 1965-1968 helping the team win the only Pennsylvania State Conference Baseball Championship in 1965. In 1982 Eli was awarded Coach of the Year by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). Throughout his career, Eli's swim teams placed in the top three of the PSAC and nine of his swimmers achieved All-American status. Eli was honored as a lifetime member of the Swimming Hall of Fame and was also awarded lifetime Master Coach status by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America.

An active member of Bower Memorial United Methodist Church of Berwick, Eli served on the Board of Trustees, various committees and more recently woodworking with Men at Work. He was a member of various professional organizations and enjoyed volunteering for Danville State Hospital, the American Red Cross, and other community groups.

Eli will be missed by his family, especially his beloved and only grandchild Dean, the apple of his eye and pinochle protege. Eli will also be missed by church friends and neighbors and a number of former football and baseball players from Penncrest High School and swimmers from Bloomsburg University who became a mainstay of encouragement these past 11 months. They remember their Coach as "one really tough guy who taught them some really important life lessons" that with the passage of time and their own maturity have become the mainstay of their lives.

The McLaughlin family is being served by the Kelchner-McMichael Funeral Home Inc. of Berwick. A private graveside service for the family will be held at Bethlehem Memorial Park with a Memorial Celebration to be held at a future date at Bower Memorial United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made on behalf of the Eli McLaughlin Scholarship Fund with The Bloomsburg University Foundation at 400 East Second Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815; The Hydrocephalus Association (in honor of Dean Laubach) 870 Market Street, Suite 705, San Francisco, CA 94102; or Bower Memorial United Methodist Church, Second and Pine Streets, Berwick, PA 18603.