Gene Steratore Sr., one of the most recognizable and flamboyant officials in the area, has died at age 84.
The Uniontown native passed away of natural causes Friday, June 14, in Ruby Memorial hospital in Morgantown, W.Va.
Steratore, whose son Gene recently retired as an official for the National Football League, had a 45-year career as an official in this area.
Steratore Sr., worked at every level, including the NCAA, and was one of the more respected officials in the game.
Steratore, whose other son, Tony, also officiates in the National Football League, began his career in 1954.
“It was a case of being at the right time,” Steratore said at his induction into the Fayette County sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
“I was attending a doubleheader basketball game in Bentleyville and one of the officials for the second game couldn’t make it. (I was asked) if I could fill in and take his place. I resisted and said it was the last thing I would ever do. Finally, I said yes and after a while I thought it was cool and started to like it.“
Steratore worked games in the YMCA, church and grade school leagues before finally getting to the varsity level in high school.
With many good reviews, Steratore moved up to officiate college games in various conferences, including the ECAC, Eastern 8, Atlantic 10 and the Big East.
In football, he worked six Army-Navy games and nine bowl games, including the Sugar Bowl. In basketball, he officiated two NCAA tournaments, two NIT tournaments and one NAIA national championship. Steratore retired from officiating in 2000 and went on to become the commissioner of the Tri-State Officials Association.
Steratore worked more than 1,000 high school games.
Steratore earned letters in four varsity sports at Washington High School. He played football and basketball for three years, ran track one season, and played baseball for two.
Steratore originally enrolled at Duke University but changed his mind and opted to go to Pitt, where he was a three-year letterman as a running back and defensive back.
Steratore has been inducted into the Washington High School Wall of Fame, and the Washington-Greene Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.