Chuck Knowles, 64, high school football coach

Posted: October 18, 2013

IF A KID needed a role model to help him grow up, he couldn't have done better than Chuck Knowles.

Chuck was a longtime football coach and athletic director for area high schools, a science teacher, and a man who inspired loyalty and dedication through his own example.

He gave his heart to the players he coached and led them to championships in 40 years of coaching and running the athletic programs of several schools.

Charles J. "Chuck" Knowles died Oct. 5 of cancer. He was 64 and lived in Bensalem.

"He was loyal, dedicated, compassionate," said his son Charles Jr. "That about sums up his character."

Chuck had been the athletic director at Norristown Area High School since 2004, after nine years as athletic director at Conwell-Egan High School in Fairless Hills.

He taught biology and physical science at Northeast Catholic High School from 1971 to 1982, and taught biology and chemistry at Bishop Egan High School (later Conwell-Egan) from 1982 to 2004.

Chuck was born in Bremerhaven, Germany, to Dr. Charles A. Knowles and the former Margaret Barron. His father was an Army doctor stationed in Germany, a nation still recovering from the devastation of World War II.

Back in the States, Chuck attended St. Charles Borromeo Parochial School in Bensalem and La Salle High School, where he played football. He went on to La Salle University, graduating in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in biology. In 1977, he received his master's of education in science from Temple University.

Chuck began his teaching and coaching career at North Catholic in 1971. He was freshman football coach and junior-varsity baseball coach from 1971 to 1975.

In 1976, he became assistant varsity football coach at Bishop Egan, and served as head football coach from 1985 to 1990.

He was fired as Egan's football coach in 1991 after his teams went 17-43-3 in six seasons. In September 1991, he was named head football coach at Morrisville High School.

"I always intended to coach again," he said in an Inquirer interview at the time. "But, No. 1, I wasn't going to ride an hour to coach someplace. I wanted somewhere that wouldn't be any trouble or take away time from my family."

After talking with the Morrisville administrators and the school's athletic director, he was convinced that "they seem to have the same attitude I do about where athletics fit into high school."

"Finally, I was impressed with the school and the kids. . . . I really like these kids."

Really liking his charges on the football field helped to make Chuck a great coach and role model.

In 1994, he returned to Fairless Hill when he was named head football coach at Conwell-Egan - the result of the 1993 merger of Bishop Egan and nearby Bishop Conwell High School. He coached there until 1998.

Chuck's 1986 Bishop Egan team was the Philadelphia Catholic League Northern Division champion, and his 1992 Morrisville team was the Bicentennial League, Independence League and District 1 champion.

He was twice recognized as football coach of the year by the Philadelphia Catholic League, and also by the Bucks County Courier Times and Trenton newspapers in various seasons.

Chuck was a member of the executive council of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association, and a former chairman of the Philadelphia Catholic League board of directors.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus.

He married Sandra Nawrocki in 1975.

For recreation, Chuck enjoyed walking his dog, Monk, at Neshaminy State Park.

Besides his wife and son, he is survived by another son, Michael Knowles; a daughter, Donna Knowles; six sisters, Margaret Greene, Katherine Grabowski, Mary Noel, Patricia Kennedy, Susan Connelly and Anne Barnett; five brothers, John, Michael, William, Joseph and James Knowles, and three grandchildren.

Services: Were Saturday. Burial was at Resurrection Cemetery, Bensalem.

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