William J. "Pete" Heard, 75, passed away after a battle with cancer on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, at ProMedica Nursing and Rehabilitation (Old Orchard), Easton, Pa.
Pete was born July 26, 1946, in Trenton, N.J., to the late William J. "John" Heard, of Bangor, and the late Jeanette (Piersee) Heard, formerly of Wells, Kan.
But he grew up in Bangor, where he excelled in athletics (his lifelong passion), graduating from Bangor High in 1964. Upon his graduation, he moved onto Rider College (now Rider University) in Lawrenceville, N.J. on an athletic scholarship for basketball and baseball. He studied History and World Affairs, getting his B.A. degree in 1968. While at Rider, he was also a member of the Theta Chi Fraternity. He went on to earn a Master's degree in Secondary Education from East Stroudsburg University.
Pete returned to Bangor where he taught Social Studies at his alma mater. In addition, he began his long coaching career as assistant men's basketball coach to longtime Bangor coach, Bill Pensyl (who fondly referred to Pete as "Hometown"). Pete moved away from his Bangor roots in 1973 to Schuylkill Haven, Pa., where he taught American History and World Cultures at Schuylkill Haven High School. He was hired as the head coach of the boys' basketball team for the 1973-74 season. Pete coached the team until 1978. He came back to coaching for the 1982-83 season. Under his guidance, Schuylkill Haven won back-to-back District 11 Class A championships in 1984 and 1985. During the early-to-mid-'80s, his teams played in many state playoff games as well. He stopped coaching at Haven after the 1986 season. But, he returned to coaching as Tri-Valley High School (Hegins, Pa.) boys' basketball head coach from 1996-2001. Pete was also a faculty member at Penn State University (Schuylkill campus) for 20+ years, where he taught a History class called International Understanding - or as he called it, International "Confusion." While at Penn State, he was also an assistant men's basketball coach. In addition to teaching at Penn State Schuylkill, Pete was involved with putting together summer basketball and baseball camps and teaching young ones the fundamental skills of the sport.
Amid teaching in high school and college, plus coaching basketball, Pete attended Myerstown Theological Seminary, Myerstown, Pa., to become a pastor. He was the pastor of Williamstown Evangelical Church, Williamstown, Pa., in the '80s before becoming the pastor of Vera Cruz Evangelical Church, Emmaus, Pa., until the early '90s.
After retiring from Schuylkill Haven High School in 2003 and retiring from Penn State in the early 2000s, Pete continued to help and be an assistant men's basketball coach at various schools, as well as helping to coach a local semi-professional men's basketball team. He also continued to teach courses at Northampton County Community College. He was also occasionally asked to speak about World Affairs at various teacher conferences and community colleges throughout Northampton County and the Lehigh Valley. Pete was inducted into Schuylkill County Sports Hall of Fame for being an accomplished Schuylkill League and Schuylkill County men's basketball coach. He was also inducted into the Lehigh Valley Sports Hall of Fame for being a great basketball player in addition to his coaching accomplishments (Pete was also a board member for Lehigh Valley Sports Hall of Fame). He was inducted into Bangor High Sports Hall of Fame as well.
Pete is survived by his daughter, Heather, of Yardley, Pa.; his former wife, Marthea Heard, Schuylkill Haven, Pa., (formerly of Pennington, N.J.); sister, Mary Beth Gadakar, Princeton, N.J.; brothers, Jeffrey Heard, (wife Joann) Fountain Hill, Pa., and Joel Heard, Allentown, Pa. Pete is survived by two nephews, Clay and Kyle Gadakar, Seattle, Wash.; three great-nieces and two great-nephews. Pete is also survived by numerous cousins since his Dad, William J. "John" Heard, was the oldest of 10 children.
Pete was preceded in death by his younger sister, Martha Van Etten, (husband Scott) Mullica Hill, N.J.
Pete lived a full, busy life and loved being a teacher as well as a coach. He helped guide and mold countless people. He was well-loved and will be greatly missed.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 3, at East Bangor Community Church, 136 W. Central Ave, East Bangor, with the Rev. David Goss officiating. Family and friends are invited to a visitation from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, at Gaffney Parsons Funeral Home & Cremation Services Inc., 314 S. First St., Bangor, and from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 3, at the church. Burial will be held in St. John's Cemetery, Bangor. Online condolences may be offered at gaffneyparsons.com. A memorial service will also be held at Schuylkill Haven since Pete had roots in Schuylkill County as well. The date and times will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate a monetary donation to the www.v.org in Pete's name. This organization is the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer research - named in honor of the late great North Carolina State men's basketball coach, Jim Valvano.