“You know who else is buried in this cemetery?” my mother asked as I got back in the vehicle.
“Not really,” I responded. The reason I was visiting the IOOF Cemetery in Salisbury was to pay my respects to Mark Prynn, a police officer who died in the line of duty due to a tragic accident. Note: more about Sergeant Prynn can be found at Mark Prynn.
“Who?” I stared blankly – at the moment the name meant nothing to me.
“Rip Engle,” she repeated. “The former Penn State football coach? The one before Paterno?”
“Oh,” I responded, still not knowing who she was talking about. “Where’s he buried?”
“It doesn’t say, but it’s not that big of a cemetery.” After driving around the cemetery for a couple of minutes, we managed to find his resting place in the field of stone. Nothing on the stone hinted at him having a connection to Penn State.
Charles “Rip” Engle was born in Elk Lick Township in Somerset County. He worked in the coal mines while attending high school, but escaped the mines by attending Western Maryland College, which is now known as McDaniel College.
After graduating in 1930, he started his coaching career at Waynesboro High School. In 1942, Engle joined the coaching staff at Brown University and would become head coach in 1944. As head coach, the team had a 28-20-4 record. While at Brown, Engle also served as the head coach of the college’s basketball team from 1942 to 1946. Engle also invented the game known as Angleball® while at Brown as a means of keeping his players physically active in the off-season.
Engle became the head coach at Penn State in 1950. As a part of the agreement, Engle was allowed to bring one assistant coach from Brown University with him. With his assistants all having other opportunities, Engle brought with him a former talented quarterback – Joseph “Joe” Paterno.
Engle was head coach at Penn State from 1950 to 1965. Under his leadership, Penn State went 104-48-4 record. In those years, Penn State made an appearance in four straight bowl games and won three Lambert trophies. His coaching put Penn State on the football map -‐ in his sixteen years as Penn State head coach, he never had a losing season. When he retired in 1966, Paterno would assume the position from his mentor.
In 1973, Engle would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Engle passed on March 7, 1983 at the age of seventy-six and was buried at Salisbury.
I finished paying my respects to the former coach whose guidance brought the Nittany Lions to national attention. I left him to rest among the stones of the IOOF Cemetery.