Charles E. Songster, 81, retired basketball coach
Charles E. Songster, a former professor and longtime member of the men’s basketball coaching staff at Cheyney University, died on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at the St. Francis House in Yeadon after a long illness. He was 81.
Songster, who was hired at Cheyney in 1965, started coaching the freshman team in 1967, and retired from the Department of Education & Professional Services in spring of 2000.
After several years as an assistant coach, under Naismith and Cheyney University Athletic Hall of Fame Head Coach John Chaney, Songster, was named the head coach in 1982, when Chaney became the head coach at Temple University.
In his inaugural season as head coach, Cheyney captured its 14th PSAC title and finished with a 26-6 overall record, earning him NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) East District Coach of the Year in Division II.
Songster compiled a career record of 137-66, over sevens season from 1982-89, at the helm at Cheyney, with the 1985-86 team taking home the school’s PSAC-leading 15th league crown. The squad advanced all the way to the NCAA Division II Final Four, with a Cheyney University record for victories during a 29-5 season. Songster was once again named NABC East District Coach of the Year in Division II.
Former Cheyney University head wrestling, bowling and assistant football coach Harold Johnson, currently working in admissions at Cheyney, remembers Songster fondly.
“He was a clinician and disciplinarian as a coach who really knew the game,” Johnson said. “He was really loved by his players as well as the students in the class room.”
Songster was partially responsible for bringing head volleyball coach Joan Braid to Cheyney in the spring of 2012.
Braid was deciding on whether to accept an offer to become Cheyney’s next head volleyball coach when she and her friends noticed an older gentleman from St. Kevin Church, sitting by himself at a restaurant and asked he wanted to join them.
“I had no idea who he was and that he was connected to Cheyney,” Braid said.
After speaking with Songster, Braid said her mind was made up. “I took it as a sign, that I was supposed to be at Cheyney.”
Songster was inducted into the Cheyney University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994, the Delaware County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame in 2001 and into the Philadelphia Area Small College Hall of Fame in 2008.
Services will be held May 24 at St. Kevin Church, 200 W. Sproul Road in Springfield. Viewing is at 10 a.m. Mass will follow at 11 a.m. Burial is in Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery, 1600 S. Sproul Road in Springfield. A repast luncheon follows the burial at the Lamb Tavern, 865 W. Springfield Road, in Springfield.