Joe Steffy Dies At Age 85




The following article appeared in the Times Herald-Record and was written by Army football beat writer Sal Interdonato.

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Joe Steffy and Bob Kinney had never met until Kinney took his car in for a tuneup at Steffy's Broadway Garage in Newburgh years ago.

Kinney and Steffy struck up a conversation. Soon enough, Steffy found out Kinney was Army's sports information director. From then on, they were friends for life.

"He treated me like I was the King of England," Kinney said. "It was tremendous. He was that kind of a person."

Joe Steffy, the man who turned down a tryout with the Dallas Texans in the '50s to sell used cars in Newburgh, once dominated the college football trenches at 190 pounds.

Steffy was so dominant for Army that he was named the 1947 Outland Trophy winner, given to the country's best interior linemen. Steffy, a two-way lineman for Army from 1945-47, was twice named an All-American and played on two national championship teams.

Army and college football lost one of its warriors on Saturday when Steffy, 85, died at St. Luke's/Cornwall Hospital's Newburgh campus. He had prior heart problems.

"I think 75 percent of the people in Newburgh know Joe Steffy. He was one of the warmest, nicest persons I've ever had the privilege of meeting," Kinney said. "I really cherished every opportunity I had to be around him. The stories he could tell."

Steffy, who served in the Korean War and received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart after being wounded in action, was a people person. Just Steffy's presence alone would draw a crowd at Army football alumni golf gatherings. Former players from his era and more recent graduates made sure they stopped by and chatted with the member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

"It was amazing to see the number of former players in his playing days or beyond, who would almost fight to sit at a table and talk to Joe for a while," Kinney said "He was a magnet that drew the cream of Army football. He was certainly one of the best players we've ever had."

Steffy's name stands with Army's Heisman Trophy winner Glenn Davis, Felix "Doc" Blanchard and Pete Dawkins in the west stands of Michie Stadium. Steffy's No. 61 is one of four numbers to be retired at West Point.

Before the ceremony to retire his number in 2009, Steffy said, "I don't think I deserve it in the first place," Steffy said. "Who wants to wear it anyway? I could be wrong. Once they get me out and start telling lies about me, I might cry a little."

"He never called attention to himself," said Jack Hecker, an Army assistant coach for 23 years starting in 1967.

Steffy was a fixture at Army football practices and talked to the players often when Hecker coached. Hecker said he made sure to tell his cadets who had just graced their presence.

Steffy wasn't just an Army legend. He was West Point.

"He was a real ambassador for not just football at West Point but the academy itself," Kinney said.

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