Bernie Lemonick, 87, of Jenkintown, a Penn football all-American who returned as defensive line coach to help Penn win its first Ivy League title in 1959, died Friday of Alzheimer's disease at his home.
"We are incredibly saddened by the loss of such an iconic member of the Penn football family in Bernie Lemonick," current Quakers coach Ray Priore said on the Penn football website.
"Bernie had illustrious careers both as a player and coach, and continued his unparalleled support of Penn football as an alum. Bernie will forever be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the Red and Blue, and we could not be more thankful for that."
Mr. Lemonick was considered to be one of the nation's best linemen from 1948 to 1950, his seasons at Penn, the website said. He was named to several all-American teams after his senior season and played in the East-West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game (against the Cleveland Browns), according to the website.
He was chosen by wire services as national lineman of the week, once in 1949 (against Dartmouth) and again in 1950 (against Wisconsin). In 1985, he received the Distinguished American Award from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Mr. Lemonick returned to Penn in 1955 as an assistant football coach for five seasons.
After his coaching career, Mr. Lemonick cofounded and served as head of the Mungermen, the varsity football letter-winners who had played under legendary head coach George Munger from 1938 to 1953.
Penn classmate Pete Sigmund said Mr. Lemonick was responsible for placing both a statue of Munger and a plaque listing all the Mungermen on a building at the west end of Franklin Field.
Mr. Lemonick was inducted into the inaugural class of the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996, and also received the 1996 University of Pennsylvania Alumni Award of Merit in recognition of outstanding service to the school. He was inducted into the state of Pennsylvania's 1995 Sports Hall of Fame City All-Star chapter.
A Philadelphia native, Mr. Lemonick was an all-Public League guard in 1945 who played for Olney High School. At Penn, he graduated with honors in 1951 with a bachelor's degree in economics. He was named class president in 1951.
"He was a real gentleman and a strong leader of the class," Sigmund said.
After graduating, Mr. Lemonick did advanced study at Temple University in real estate and went on to own and operate the Kennebec Camps in North Belgrade, Maine. After 14 years, he sold the business and made his living as director of business development for Jackson-Cross Co., the realty company in Philadelphia. He received the firm's Ronald K. Porter Award for outstanding achievement.
Active in civic affairs, he supported the Philadelphia Board of Education's Corporate Adopt-A-School Program; raised funds for the United Way and the Boy Scouts of America; and was a member of the board of the Abington Art Center and the USO.
Although a fierce competitor on the playing field, he was known for being kind, gentle, and an attentive family man in private life.
He was married for 58 years to Felicia Steiner, whom he met at a Penn-Cornell game. In addition to his wife, he is survived by sons Jim and John; a daughter, Julie; and nine grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at noon Friday at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 N. Broad St., Philadelphia. Burial was private.