Sam Harry, a Penn State All-American who owns the distinction of being the first wrestler to win a Pennsylvania high school state title, died last Saturday in Harrisburg, Penn. of pancreatic cancer at age 89.
Harry wrestled for the Nittany Lions before and after serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He won his first of two EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) titles for Penn State in 1942 at 128 pounds. Then, after returning to college after the war, he claimed his second EIWA title in 1946, again at 128. A month later, Harry placed third at 128 pounds at the 1946 NCAA championships at Oklahoma State, earning All-American honors.
Prior to Penn State, Harry wrestled for legendary coach Art Weiss at Clearfield High School in north-central Pennsylvania. As sportswriter Rod Frisco stated in his tribute to Harry, “He led a full and productive life, but he will always be known for his semi-accidental fame: He was the first of 1,382 PIAA wrestling champions.”
Harry was one of 78 wrestlers representing 27 schools at that first Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament in 1938. By winning the 85-pound title — the lightest weight class at the time — Harry became the first-ever PIAA champ, and the first of 40 from Clearfield High.
Born on April 12, 1922 in Clearfield, Samuel C. Harry was the son of the late Charles and Chrissie Harry. He was a graduate of Clearfield High School, Penn State University, and Dickenson Law School. He was a long-time attorney, retiring from Keefer Wood Allen and Rahal in 1995.
Harry is survived by his wife, Betty, of 67 years and their four children.
Contributions can be made to Hospice of Central Pennsylvania in Sam Harry’s memory.
Want to know more? Read Rod Frisco’s tribute to Sam Harry… and the obituary in the Harrisburg Patriot-News. To learn more about his high school coach Art Weiss — who passed away in May at age 102 — click here.
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