Sunday September 16, 2012

PITTSFIELD

There are people in this world who, when you mention their name, it doesn't take long for a reaction.

I got that last week when I asked about the late John Codey.

"He was the best guy ever," said Paul Procopio, who grew up in Pittsfield with Codey.

Codey was 70 when he died on Tuesday from the effects of pancreatic cancer.

"He was a great guy and a good friend," said Tim Kirby, who knew Codey professionally at New York Life, and in their side jobs as football officials.

"If it wasn't for John Codey, I wouldn't have gotten into football."

I have to admit, I didn't see Codey all that often. But I can tell you this: When we'd run into each other, it was like we had just seen each other the day before. That was the kind of man he was.

"He was so good to everybody," said Joe Woitkoski, a long-time football official himself, who worked with Codey on the field and in helping drive the Monday Morning Quarterback Club in Pittsfield.

The club helped provide scholarships to Pittsfield high school football players, and more than $80,000 has been distributed since its inception in 1962.

The Jimmy Fund, the Pittsfield Hoop Club, the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame .... It didn't matter, Codey was there. Woitkoski said that Codey was always involved in fund raising. You never heard much about it because that was just the way he was.

Procopio said that Codey helped put the foundations for the football and basketball organizations together.

"Dave [Harte] and I were talking one night after one of our games," Procopio said. "He said it would be nice to do something for our kids who are graduating. There's a football hall of fame. Why not do a basketball hall of fame?

"We called John, and he said ‘I'm on board.' John raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for football players and basketball players."

Around Pittsfield, Codey may have been known for that. Around New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, he was know as a college football official for more than 30 years.

"He was the best. You know what made him the best? He had such a good feel for the game, a perspective on officiating football which [his son] Kevin has today," said Woitkoski. "He was out there to let the kids play. He wasn't out there to have people remember him because he threw flags or made himself known."

Kevin Codey, who is a physical education teacher at Herberg Middle School, is following in his father's officiating footsteps. Kevin is working in the Big East Conference. He did the UMass-UConn game last month and had a game at Syracuse on Saturday. He passed the official's test to work high school games when he was a junior in high school.

Calling hours are today from 2-5 p.m. at St. Mark Church, because no funeral home is big enough to hold the crowd. The funeral is Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Mark.

With the Jewish High Holidays upon us, it will give me a chance to say a prayer for him.

John, you were one of the good guys.

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.