Coaching Legend George McGinness Passes Away

Coaching Legend George McGinness Passes Away

LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall coaching legend, George McGinness, passed away peacefully on Sunday afternoon at the age of 96.

“The entire F&M Swimming Family is deeply saddened by the death of Coach McGinness,” said swimming coach, Bob Rueppel.  “I am deeply honored and humbled to be the swimming coach at Franklin and Marshall College because of what Coach McGinness accomplished here over his 33 years. “

McGinness, joined the Franklin & Marshall community as an instructor of physical education in December 1945. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1949, and in 1958, he was named associate professor.  From 1945 to 1960, McGinness also served as the Director of Intramurals and during the 1968-69 academic year, he was the Chairman of the Physical Education Program. McGinness was also on the coaching staff of Franklin & Marshall’s 1950 football team that went undefeated and was inducted into the College’s Hall of Fame.

Throughout his 34 years with the college, McGinness coached varsity soccer, track, golf, and swimming.

Swimming was his first love. He assumed the head coaching position of the men's swim team in 1947. It was McGinness who took on the responsibility of developing the first women's varsity team in 1974.

“George reluctantly took over women’s swimming when we started the program,” recalls Athletics Director Emeritus, William “Doc” Marshall. “Once he accepted the position he threw himself full force into his work.”

During his 33 years with the men and six with the women, McGinness coached numerous individual and team champions that went on to win in the Middle Atlantic Championships, Eastern Championships, and National Championships. He coached nine members of the Franklin & Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame.

“His swimmers, both the men and the women, truly looked upon him as a father and grandfather figure,” says Marshall.

Rueppel, who developed a relationship with McGinness in his later years echoed Marshall’s sentiments, “He was a man who deeply cared for his athletes as people, well beyond their accomplishments in the pool.” 

Mark Stuart Ellison ’82 shared similar thoughts on his former coach shortly after a dinner in McGinness’ honor during Homecoming Weekend in 2008. Ellison wrote, “In his nearly three-and-a-half decades of coaching at Franklin & Marshall, George McGinness profoundly touched the lives of many athletes. I consider myself fortunate to be one of them.”  

“Coach was the perfect example for all to live to live life with grace and dignity,” notes Rueppel. He will never be forgotten”

 Funeral arrangements will be announced on GoDiplomats.com when they become available.