Former Lion Pete Harris Passes Away

Piero (Pete) Harris, a first team All-America safety at Penn State in 1978, died Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was 49. A product of Mount Holly, N.J., Harris was one of three brothers to play football for Penn State and coach Joe Paterno.

One of nine children, an older brother, Franco (1969-71) and a younger brother, Giuseppe (1979-81), also were starters for the Nittany Lions.

"Pete was somebody that everyone liked," Paterno said. "His teammates really liked being around him. Pete was a gifted athlete. The Harris family is such a great family. It's such a shame?a tragedy."

A safety, Harris led the nation with 10 interceptions in 1978 to earn first team All-America honors from United Press International. His 10 interceptions tied Neal Smith (1969) for the Penn State season record, a mark that still stands. Harris recorded 15 interceptions during his career (1976-78, '80), a total that is tied for second (with Darren Perry) in the school record books. Only Smith, with 19, had more career picks. Harris gained 155 return yards on his 10 interceptions during his junior season and had 183 return yards in his career.

A three-year letterwinner, Harris helped the Nittany Lions earn a superlative 34-4 combined record in 1977, '78, and '80. Penn State won two Fiesta Bowls and played Alabama in the Sugar Bowl for the National Championship during his career.

In 1977, Harris started several games at safety, but his season ended when he suffered a broken ankle against North Carolina State late in the year. He had two interceptions and seven tackles.

Harris recorded 28 tackles (21 solo), and recovered two fumbles in addition to his nation's best 10 interceptions in 1978, helping Penn State to an 11-0 regular season and the No. 1 ranking entering the epic Sugar Bowl clash with Alabama.

  In 1980, Harris made 27 stops, grabbed three more interceptions and recovered two fumbles, helping the Nittany Lions to a 10-2 mark, with a win over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Harris played in the 1981 Japan Bowl.

Harris played football, basketball and baseball at Rancocas Valley High School and twice earned honorable mention All-Burlington County honors on the gridiron.

Harris majored in food service and housing administration at Penn State and was an executive chef at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

He is survived by his mother, Gina Harris, four brothers and four sisters, nieces and nephews.

Friends may call Tuesday, Aug. 15 from 7-9 p.m. at the Perinchief Funeral Home, 438 High Street in Mount Holly. Funeral services will be held Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 10 a.m. at the funeral home.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Burlington County Chapter of the American Heart Association, 600 South White Horse Pike, Audubon, N.J. 08106.


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