Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Linda Page's Life Celebrated At Her Funeral

(Guru's Note: For those having trouble finding it, here is the Guru print story for The Inquirer Sports Department that appeared in Sunday editions. There was some trimming to the original submission, but nothing that requires restoring the outtakes here.)

By Mel Greenberg

FOR THE INQUIRER


In an uplifting setting of celebration and gospel song, the life of former Dobbins Tech and North Carolina State women's basketball great Linda Page was marked Saturday morning in a funeral service lasting more than two hours at Resurrection Methodist Church in Southwest Philadelphia.

Page, best remembered for breaking Wilt Chamberlain's city high school record by scoring 100 points in a game in February 1981, died of a heart attack at age 48 on Oct. 3. Her passing was not made public until two days later.

"She played the game of life as hard as she played the game of basketball," noted the Rev. Michael Tyson in his eulogy. "She scored 100 points in a game, but she was more than that. . . . God was good to Linda for 48 years. . . . He made a three-point shot and took her home to victory."

Tyson presided over the ceremony in front of mourners that included about 300 individuals from her various walks of life along with members of her family. Page worked for 10 years in the city as a juvenile probation officer, ran a shooting clinic in Yeadon, and authored an autobiography a year ago.

The Wolfpack star acquired the nickname "Hawkeye" after her favorite men's player: North Carolina State's Charles "Hawkeye" Whitney.

During the service, a white marble urn containing Page's ashes was on a stand below the podium. A collage of pictures from her life was posted nearby alongside several floral arrangements, including one sent by the North Carolina State women's basketball staff and players.

Page's immediate family surviving her are three brothers, Willie C., Paul F., and Jeffrey C.; two sisters, Eartha L. Page and Betty Fowler; and her mother, Louise.

Former University City coach Lurline Jones was among notables in the church from Page's era in the Public League that included former Gratz stars Debbie Lytle and Marilyn Stephens, who went on to all-American stature at Temple and now coaches the women at Cheyney University.

Several players from Page's time at N.C. State made the trip to the funeral, including Virginia Commonwealth assistant coach Trena Trice-Hill, who played in the WNBA, and Robyn Mayo.

During the cocktail hour at Thursday night's annual Jimmy V dinner in New York City, Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma and former Wolfpack men's star Derrick Wittenberg discussed Page's career.

"Every time she touched the ball, she scored," recalled Auriemma, who was then an assistant coach at Virginia. "You talk about whoever you want, Linda Page was as great a scorer as I've ever seen in a high school uniform, no question about it."

Wittenberg is known for the air ball that the late Lorenzo Charles rescued and converted into a dunk at the buzzer that gave Jim Valvano's Wolfpack the historic 1983 upset of Houston in the NCAA tournament title game.

"What a tragedy for one still relatively so young," he said. "She was a great player, a wonderful young lady. When she came to State, [the men] went to watch the games because we had never seen a dynamic scorer like her. She was unbelievable."

-- Mel

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