John Albright Diehl, Sr. slipped the mortal bonds of Earth on Friday, Dec. 28, 2012
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At six foot eight inches tall and tipping the scales at nearly 300 pounds, John Diehl had a special way of making his presence known. He was a mountain of a man whose physical size was only matched by his sense of humor and the size of his gentle heart.
John hailed from Philiadelphia, where he attended Frankford High School and was a standout football player. Upon graduation, he attended Bullis Prep School, just outside of Washington, D.C.. Although only at Bullis for a year, John made the most of his time there: anchoring the defensive line for an impressive 1953 football team and leaving the school with many lifelong friends. He was inducted into their Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.
John then brought his football talents to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. He was drafted into the NFL by the Baltimore Colts in 1958. He played four seasons from 1961 to 1964 as a defensive tackle for Baltimore before being traded to the Dallas Cowboys. John's stint with the Colts was the highlight of his football days. He played with 10 future Hall of Famers and the bonds forged amongst those teammates were everlasting.
Diehl played briefly for Tom Landry while with the Dallas Cowboys before being traded to the Oakland Raiders, where he finished his NFL career in1965. John returned to the Colts organization as a player and coach for the Harrisburg Colts of the Atlantic Coast Football League.
After his football career, Mr. Diehl entered the moving and storage business. Over the next 35 years, John owned and operated various moving businesses in Virginia and Maryland. His work allowed him to travel extensively across the country and meet a wide array of people. Throughout his moving career, John was proud to have moved Heads of State, movie stars, professional athletes and many titans of industry. Diehl, a natural born storyteller, liked to share his unique and comedic work experiences with all who would listen.
Mr. Diehl was a dedicated husband and father whose greatest joy was his family. Nothing would bring a bigger smile to his face than time spent with his devoted family.
John is survived by his loving wife, three children, two sisters, two grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews and a multitude of lifelong friends. You will be missed, Big Guy, but not forgotten.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg, 4445 Powhatan Parkway, Williamsburg, Virginia 23188.
Published in Virginia Gazette from Jan. 4 to Feb. 3, 2013