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Former Cheyney University Coach Charles Songster Passes Away

May 17, 2017

Former Cheyney University Professor Charles E. SongsterCHEYNEY, PA – Former Cheyney University Professor Charles E. Songster, a member of the men's basketball coaching staff at Cheyney for over 20 years, passed away at the age of 81 on May 11 at the St. Francis House in Yeadon, PA after a long illness.

A funeral and mass will be held on Wednesday, May 24th at St. Kevin Church, 200 W. Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064. The viewing will be held beginning at 10 am, followed by the mass at 11 am, with the burial immediately following at Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery, 1600 S. Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064. A Repast luncheon will be held after the burial at the Lamb Tavern, 865 W. Springfield Road, Springfield, PA 19064.

Songster, who was hired at Cheyney in 1965, started coaching the freshman team in 1967, and retired from the Department of Education and Professional Services in Spring of 2012.

After several years as an assistant coach, under Naismith and Cheyney University Athletic Hall of Fame Head Coach John Chaney, including the 1977-78 National Championship winning team, 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 seven seasons 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 29-5 mark. 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 classroom."

Songster was, in a unique way,  partially responsible for bringing head volleyball coach Joan Braid to Cheyney in the Spring of 2012. Braid and her friends noticed an older gentleman sitting by himself at a restaurant and asked if he wanted to join them, she explains.  "I had no idea who he was and that he was connected to Cheyney."  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."

Cheyney Assistant men's basketball coach, Leon Bell '77, who was one of many alumni, friends and co-workers who would visit with Songster, shared the photograph above of one his last visits to see Songster.

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.