Rudy A. Sharkey, Jr., beloved father, grandfather, husband, coach, and teacher passed peacefully in his sleep Friday, April 21st.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 54 years, Mildred (Millie) Sharkey, his father Rudy Sr., and mother Annette, and his brother Ron.
He is survived by his brothers Joe (JoAnn) and Tom (Lorrain) and five children Scott (KimRae Ketcham), Paul (Kathy), Gary (Tina) and Jeff (Heather) and Tina (Jeff) Smith, grandchildren Kyle, Derek (Lindsay) Sharkey, and Caitlin (Katie) Martin, Jacob (Micayla), Joel, Cory (Brittney), and Jordan (Matt) Porter, Makenzie and Cody Smith, step-grandchildren Sam, Anya, Chloe, Genevieve, Aidan Coleman, and six great-grandchildren Bailey and Conner Porter, Mason and Cecelia Sharkey, Sage and Lydia Sharkey.
He was a long time member of First Lutheran Church, and Hope Lutheran Church.
Rudy was born August 12th, 1935 in Library, PA, and grew up in New Eagle, PA and Clairton, PA, graduating from Clairton in 1953. He attended Marietta College, graduating in 1957, where he had started and lettered four years on the gridiron, rowed crew (4 yr letters), was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha and was named to Marietta’s All-Decade team of the 1950s as a running back.
After a brief tryout with the Baltimore Colts, he became an assistant coach at Bucyrus High School in the fall of '57. With the exception of the two years at Bucyrus and one year at Midwestern College (Iowa), he was a head coach 23 years. Throughout his career he had the reputation of taking over faltering grid programs and rebuilding them into winners. Included in those rebuilding jobs was a seven-year stay at Maysville High School and four at Bellaire High School.
At Barberton High School, he became the all-time winningest football coach in history in just 12 short years. Rudy was an immediate winner - guiding the Magics to an 8-1-1 record in his first season. Through 1982 he had directed the Magics to a 79-37-3 record. His 1972 and 1978 units went 9-1. His overall head coaching record at Barberton, Bellaire and Maysville reads: 136-83-7.
He served as Barberton Athletic Director from 1983 until 1990. In 1990, he joined Gerry Faust’s staff at the University of Akron until 1995. In 1996 he joined Larry Kehres’ Mount Union staff, winning 9 national championships while with the Purple Raiders. In 2014, he started teaching football at Kent State University, finally retiring in 2017.
Maysville High School named a stadium in his honor, and in 1983 Barberton did the same, christening Rudy Sharkey Stadium. He was elected Southeastern Region Coach of the Year while at Maysville, and Northeastern Region Coach of the Year at Barberton, as well as twice Summit County Coach of the Year (1972 and 1978), and Cleveland Plain Dealer Coach of the Year. He was the head coach for the Summit County All Stars twice, and assistant coach on the Ohio Big-33 staff and the Ohio North All-Star team. He was inducted into the Maysville Athletic Department Hall of Merit (2007), the Barberton Sports Hall of Fame (1981), Summit County Sports Hall of Fame (1981), and the Ohio High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005. Additionally, he was presented with the Barberton Sports Hall of Fame Presidential Award in 2003.
Rudy started the Slammers girl’s travel softball team in 1987, winning the 1994 ASA Women’s Fast Pitch Class B National Championship. At least two dozen girls from his teams went on to play college softball.
He coached eight future NFL players, one future MLB player, six High School All-American’s and well over 75 future college football players during his career.
Visitation will be Friday, April 28, 2023 starting at 5 PM at Barberton High School Auditorium, 555 Barber Rd, Barberton, OH 44203. Funeral service will be Saturday at 12 PM in the Auditorium.
Coach Sharkey requested that a donation be made to a scholarship fund being established in Coach Sharkey’s memory. Donations in lieu of flowers should be sent to: Rudy Sharkey Scholarship Fund, 680 E State St, Barberton, Oh 44203.
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