William & Mary

Basketball star Giermak passes away at age 87

Chet Giermak, 87, until recently William & Mary’s all-time scoring leader in basketball, passed away Monday morning after complications from a stroke he suffered on Saturday in Erie, Pa.

Giermak, a 6-foot-6 center who played from 1947-50, scored 2,052 points, a mark that survived 65 years. On February 25, senior guard Marcus Thornton surpassed that total after making a free throw against Towson. Thornton has played four games since then, and enters tomorrow night’s NIT game at Tulsa with 2,155 points.

Giermak came to W&M after a stellar high school career in Chicago, and after having served in the military. He led the Tribe in scoring from 1948-50, and was drafted by the NBA’s Rochester Royals.

Instead, he opted to play AAU basketball and to begin a very successful business career. Later, he and his wife, Dorothy, who were married during Giermak’s senior year at W&M, endowed a basketball scholarship at the university.

The Giermaks sent four children to W&M: Bill ’73, Mary Lou Nexsen ’75, Patricia Millea ’77 and Lynne Johnson ’86. Giermak’s granddaughter, Haley Johnson, is a member of the Class of 2015.

Visitation will take place at the Schmidt Funeral Home, 5200 Wattsburg Road in Erie on Sunday, March 22, from 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A funeral mass will be held the next day at St. Luke’s Catholic Church, 225 East 38th Street, also in Erie. It will begin at 10 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, Giermak requested that donations be made to the Tribe Club.