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Photo of the Month
November 2021
See Previous Photos     Unknown Faces and Places


Garry Robert Feniello is one of two known cousins in the extended family to suit up for a professional team in the National Football League.

During his years at Connellsville (PA) High School, Garry played under head football coach Arthur Ruff, helping the team to reel off 19 wins in a row. In December 1942, he was named to the Associated Press All-Pennsylvania team. He also was a pole vaulter in track, setting a record for combined height jumped with teammates including Johnny Lujack, who in turn went on to win the 1947 Heisman Trophy playing for Notre Dame.

Garry pursued a college football career with the the University of Pittsburgh Panthers. But fate intervened a week after the 1943 season ended, with World War II aflame, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. During his training, he is known to have played left guard with the Army All-Stars team against the professional Brooklyn Dodgers in a game held in Abilene, TX. After the war, he transferred to Wake Forest University and continued his football exploits as a guard for the Demon Deacons. When Wake Forest beat Tennessee in October 1946, he was pictured in newspapers helping to triumphantly hoist head coach D.C. "Peahead" Walker.

Garry was signed to a contract by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an offensive guard during the 1947 season. Whether or not he saw action is not yet known. That year, the Steelers had an 8-4 record and made their first playoff appearance, led by head coach John Bain "Jock" Sutherland, with the coach then dying during the offseason from a brain tumor.

A year later, in 1948, Garry played semi-professionally for the McKeesport (PA) Iron Men in the Pennsylvania Pro League. He was signed in 1949 by the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference, and news of the contract was printed in newspapers across the country. But he may not have made the final roster as by September 1949 he is known to have been a guard and placekicker for the semipro Weirton (WV) Weiriters, and did so for the balance of the season. He spent 1950 as a guard with the Richmond (VA) Rebels.

In 2007, during the team's 75th anniversary season, the Steelers honored Garry and the teams from the decade of 1940s. He appeared on the field among 11 other of his 1947 teammates, during a 2007 game at Heinz Field against the Jacksonville Jaguars. His widow, Nancy L. (Wilson) Feniello, is of the family of Jackson "Grant" and Rebecca (Cunningham) Rose of Ursina, PA.


Copyright © 2021 Mark A. Miner

Image courtesy Nancy (Wilson) Feniello with assistance from the late Joseph Allen McKnight, to whose memory this month's page is dedicated.