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Jan. 7, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics mourns the passing of former associate sports information director Mary Jo Haverbeck, who died on Monday, Jan. 6 in State College. She was 74.
Haverbeck was a trailblazer for women in the field of athletic communications, earning several lifetime achievement honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). She was the first woman inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame in 1995 and was the first recipient of the organization's Trailblazer Award in 2001. Additionally, she was the first female earn the Arch Ward Award, in 2000, which is presented to a member who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of college sports information or has brought dignity and prestige to the profession.
The native of Wilmington, Del. worked as an associate sports information director at Penn State from 1974 until her retirement in 1999. Haverbeck made her presence felt when she became the first Penn State official to publicize the university's women's sports programs. She rose to national prominence as a valued member of multiple CoSIDA committees and as a mentor for Penn State students interested in pursuing a career in athletic communications or the media.
"We are saddened by the passing of Mary Jo Haverbeck," said Dave Joyner, Director of Athletics. "Mary Jo truly was a pioneer in the athletic communications field, not only at Penn State, but nationwide. Mary Jo played a critical role in the growth and awareness of Penn State women's athletics, in particular. She was great mentor and friend to Penn State students, student-athletes, coaches and many others who were in athletic communications and the media."
"Mary Jo was a pioneer in females starting careers in sports information and in the media covering sports," stated Ellen Perry, who served Penn State Athletics for 36 years, including as Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator from 1989-02. "Mary Jo represented our women's sports teams and Penn State exceptionally well."
"Mary Jo was a woman pioneer in her profession," said Sue Delaney-Scheetz, a member of the Penn State Athletics staff for 29 years, serving as Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator from 2002-11. "Mary Jo was instrumental in publicizing and promoting women's athletics at Penn State and across the nation. She was respected by her peers and nationally recognized for her dedication and hard work."
Prior to moving into her role in Penn State Athletics, Haverbeck spent time in University public relations as well as in public relations in the banking and finance industry. She also worked as an elementary school teacher and never abandoned the quest to educate. Haverbeck began her sports information career on a volunteer basis in the late 1960s while working in University public relations.
Throughout the course of her distinguished career, Haverbeck not only helped generate previously unrealized levels of media coverage of women's athletics, but she also worked to address women's issues within the industry. She maintained high profile positions in the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) and Female Athletic Media Relations Executives (FAME). Haverbeck also was a long-time member of the NCAA Women's Final Four media coordination committee. She also worked as a press operations manager for the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games, a press officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1983 and 1981.
In retirement, Haverbeck stayed involved in Penn State and athletics. She taught news writing and reporting classes for the Penn State College of Communications. She also wrote for usatoday.com, Harrisburg Patriot News and Blue/White Illustrated.
Haverbeck is pre-deceased by her parents, Joe and Mildred Haverbeck, and is survived by her long-time friend Gillian Rattray of State College, and cousins Milman E. Prettyman, Jr., Richard G. Prettyman, Suzanne Potts and James Prettyman.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, January 9 at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in State College at noon.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Haverbeck can be sent to: St. Andrews Episcopal Church Memorial Fund, 208 W. Foster Ave., State College, PA 16801.