One of the most successful coaches Philadelphia’s illustrious basketball history has passed.
Harry “Bud” Gardler, who coached and taught for over 40 years and was once the winningest coach in the Philadelphia Catholic League, died Wednesday after battling a lengthy illness. He was 72.
Gardler coached at Cardinal O’Hara (Springfield, Pa.) for 32 seasons (1977-2008) and prior to that at Bishop Kenrick (Norristown, Pa.) for seven (1969-75). In 1975-76, he an assistant coach at American University in Washington, D.C.
With a career record of 560-413 until his retirement in 2008, Mr. Gardler was the all-time winningest boys’ basketball coach in Catholic League history until he was surpassed by St. Joseph’s Prep coach Speedy Morris in 2011.
“I always thought he was a good guy, one of the best,” Morris told Philly.com. “He was always a good friend. His teams were tough. He was a very good coach. He never won a championship, but he was an extremely good coach. His guys played together. They played hard. It was always tough to play them. They ran really good stuff.”
A coach the Delaware County Daily Times called a “master tactician,” Gardler took the Lions to the Catholic League playoffs 16 times, reaching the final in 1998.
Gardler’s coaching tree includes a number of household hoops names. Saint Joseph’s men’s coach Phil Martelli served as an assistant under Gardler at O’Hara. Legendary UConn women’s coach Geno Auriemma played for Gardler at Kenrick. Temple assistant Dave Duke also coached with Gardler, while Penn’s Steve Donahue, Hartford’s John Gallagher, and Colorado assistant Sean Kearney all played for him at O’Hara.
Per the Daily Times, Gardler is survived by his son, Chris, daughters Meghan and Mary Kate, and five grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.