Arnold Anthony Galiffa

NO. 17979  •  

Died 5 September 1978 in Glenview, Illinois, aged 51 years. 
Interment: Mon-Valley Memorial Cemetery, Donora, Pennsylvania.

ARNOLD ANTHONY CALIFFA was a gifted athlete, a leader of men and a truly nice guy. He hailed from the smoky valley of Donora, Pennsylvania, near the plants of the United States Steel Corporation. His athletic ability in high school, where he won 12 varsity letters and was named to two all-Pennsylvania teams, attracted the attention of Red Blaik, and Arnold joined the Class of 1950 on 2 July 1946 as a football prospect. He did not disappoint the coach.

At West Point, he earned 11 major varsity letters in football, baseball and basketball. This achievement had been bettered by only by one graduate and equaled by only one other. He was the quarterback of the football team and captain of the basketball team. In his first class year, he led a football team with a 9-0 record, ranking 4th in the nation. While some believe the game against Michigan in 1949 (Army won in an upset, 21-7) was his finest hour as a quarterback, he showed his leadership best in the Pennsylvania game in 1948. No one will ever forget the final quarter. Army was behind 20-19 on their own 26-yard line with three minutes to play when Galiffa engineered a masterful drive. Army advanced to the Pennsylvania 15-yard line in six plays, with Galiffa completing several passes in succession. With time running out, he threw a pass to John Trent in the end zone for a touchdown and an Army victory of 26-20.

Arnold was named to five All-American teams for 1949, including the Chicago Tribune, United Press International, Look magazine and others. At graduation, he was presented with three Army Athletic Association trophies: one as the cadet who rendered the most valuable service to athletics while at West Point; one as the most outgoing basketball captain; and one as the most valuable football player of 1949. He also played in the East-West game in San Francisco in 1950. In 1983, Arnold was inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame, and in March 1990 he was inducted into the National Italian Sports Hall of Fame, Pittsburgh Chapter.

Arnold graduated in June 1950 and married his long-time girlfriend, Peggy Perdock. As Arnold's roommates knew very well, he had a habit of humming "Peg Of My Heart." But the honeymoon was cut short, as Arnold and many of the Class of 1950 went to the war in Korea. Arnold was assigned as a platoon leader in the 3rd Infantry Division. He received a Bronze Star and was mentioned in the press for throwing a hand grenade a record distance of 75 yards in combat. After completing his tour on the line, Arnold was reassigned to Tokyo as aide de camp to Generals Ridgway and Mark Clark while they were supreme commanders.

In 1953 Arnold resigned from the Army to enter civilian life. He was contacted by Vince Lombardi, who was then backfield coach for the New York Giants. Arnold played four years of professional football - a year with the New York Giants, another with the San Francisco Forty-Niners, and two years in the Canadian Football League. Injuries plagued him the entire four years.

Arnold and Peggy returned to Pennsylvania in 1955. For the next 23 years, Arnold worked for United States Steel. As an industrial engineer, Arnold was promoted to supervisor of safety and supervised the demolition of the whole plant in Donora. The land which ran along most of the whole town and along the Monongahela River was then donated to the town of Donora to be used as an industrial park. The whole street, from one end of the town to the other, is named Galiffa Drive in his honor. Arnold moved to Chicago in 1964 in the law department of United States Steel. In 1975, he was named the United States Steel Public Affairs representative for the Central Midwest Area.

During his years with United States Steel, Arnold was active in numerous civic and charitable activities. He served as a member of the Donora Borough Council for seven years and as president for a year. He was a member of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry and the Indiana Manufacturer's Association. He served on the Indiana Governor's Committee to study solid waste problems. He was a director of the Union League Club of Chicago and was active on the Union League Foundation for the Boys' Club. He was president of the Chicago chapter of the Association of the United States Army and a member of the national advisory board. Later, his sport was golf, and he became an avid and excellent player.

In March 1978, Arnold was found to have colon cancer. After a six-rnonth illness, he died in September 1978 and was buried in Pennsylvania. Peggy and daughter Joanie, a medical assistant, now live in Delray Beach, Florida. His oldest daughter, Deborah Fliehman, is president of a marketing and communications firm in Chicago, happily married, and the mother of Arnold's two granddaughters, Sara and Lauren; Thomas is a sales representative for a wire supply company in Indianapolis.

Arnold was a good father, and his death has left a void in his family that never can be filled. Everyone who knew Arnold Galiffa liked him. He was a happy person and a great sport. He loved his family and his life. We all miss him, but his family misses him the most. Peggy lost her partner, and the children lost their best friend.

- His daughter Deborah G. Fliehman and Classmate John R. Brinkerhoff