ATHENS, Ga. -- Joe Tereshinski Sr., the patriarch of a family that proudly wore the Georgia football uniform for three generations and still remains synonymous with the program, died Sunday. He was 89.
Tereshinski played tight end and defensive end for coach Wally Butts, winning a national title in 1942 and SEC titles in both 1942 and 1946 before playing eight seasons with the NFL’s Washington Redskins.
He remained in the Washington area with a home in Bethesda, Md., before moving to an assisted living facility in the Athens area.
He grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania’s coal country in Glen Lyon, taking a 26-hour ride South on a Greyhound bus in August of 1941 to come to Georgia.
The Tereshinskis kept coming to the Bulldogs.
There was Joe Jr., who played center for the Bulldogs from 1974-76 and has been a member of Georgia’s staff since 1982, serving as everything from administrative assistant for the head coach, video coordinator and as a strength coach, where he now holds the title of director of strength and conditioning.
There was Wally, younger brother of Joe Jr., who started at tight end on the ’76 Southeastern Conference championship team.
There was Joe III, Joe Sr.’s grandson, who started at quarterback for Georgia for part of the season in 2006 and was a personal protector on the punt team. He’s now wide receivers coach at UNC-Charlotte.
“My dad honored the Tereshinski name, and I want to do the same,” Joe III told Loran Smith in a column that ran in the Athens Banner-Herald in 2005. “He and my grandfather truly loved Georgia, and I do, too.”
Another grandson, John, also graduated from Athens Academy and played tight end for Wake Forest from 2004-07.
Joe Sr. played for Butts, who received grief about recruiting players with long last names instead of boys from Georgia, according to school historian Dan Magill. So the coaching staff changed his name to Joe Terry in game programs and, Joe Sr. said, wanted it changed in the university records.
The school registrar told him, “I don’t think it would be a wise thing to do. It would hurt your father very, very badly.”
Joe Tereshinski Sr. was married for more than 55 years to the late Gertrude Tereshinski. He was first married to college sweetheart Martha Walraven who died in 1956.
He is survived by his three children, including daughter Ada Tereshinski of Austin, Texas, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
A private memorial will be held in Washington D.C. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to St. Mary’s Center for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care, 1660 Jennings Mill Rd., Bogart, GA