Large image
Daniel Francis McGettigan Sr., also known to those that knew and loved him as Big Dan, Dad, Pop Pop, Big Pop, Daddy-O, and a name he cherished, Coach, passed away peacefully at his home in Alabama on Saturday, August 20th, 2022. Dan was predeceased by his mother Helen (Nellie) and Father Thomas as well as his 12 brothers and sisters. Dan is survived by his wife Susan, son Dan (Susan), and daughters Teresa Jacobs, Rita Hodges (Warren), and Katie McGettigan Milazzo (Mason) and his 9 grandchildren, Kellie and Dan McGettigan, Cody, Candace, Garrett, and Patrick Jacobs, and Hunter, Savannah, and Peyton Hodges. Dan was also Big Pop to 10 great grandchildren.
Dan was the youngest of 13 children born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. Dan was an excellent athlete and realized at an early age how important it was to bring people together in friendship and in competition. At a young age Dan formed the Shamrocks a neighborhood sports team that competed in baseball, football, and basketball. Other members of the team were guys named Kilkenny, McFadden, O’brien, McSorley, and along with McGettigan the Shamrocks name was quite appropriate. Dan attended St. Thomas More Catholic HS in Philadelphia and as a freshman was recognized by many sports writers as an outstanding young athlete with great things to come in his future. Unfortunately, Dan’s father passed away while he was in 9th grade and he was forced to drop out of school to go to work to help his mom and his sisters while his brothers were away in the service or raising families of their own.
Dan lied about his age and joined the United States Air Force at the age of 16 where he got to travel to many places including Africa, but more importantly he got to pursue one his loves, boxing. Dan loved to box and met a great trainer who helped develop him into a Champion at his weight class where he fought and beat other fighters from various branches of the armed forces. After the Air Force Dan was given an aptitude test that informed him, he was qualified to be a candy-maker. Dan married and moved over the bridge to a small town in South Jersey, where he bought his 1st home in Maple Shade, a small town that was 4 square miles in size. Dan worked various jobs including being a Milkman before he settled in at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, building and repairing battleships and aircraft carriers. Dan was known to work long hours, often working 16 hours a day 7 days a week, but always found time to coach little league baseball as well as youth basketball. Young kids were drawn to Big Dan’s coaching style as he was always positive and was a great teacher of skills. Many players that he coached over 50 years ago still say to me, “I loved your dad, he was the best coach I ever had.” “I tell my kids many of the things your dad told me when I played for him,” Due to a devastating injury Dan was forced to leave his job at the Navy Yard, and while trying to raise a family of 5 on a disability check he decided to move south to Florida hoping his check would go further in the south. As fate would have it while visiting one of his brothers in Alabama, Dan and his family rented a townhouse with the intention of making trips to Florida to find the perfect new home. Almost 50 years later, Dan still resides in Alabama. Dan made the best of his time in Bama, going back to school to earn his GED, graduate from the University of Alabama Birmingham as the student of the year in the school of education, and received his Masters’ degree. After graduation Dan became a teacher of Welding at Pinson Valley HS, where he taught and coached various sports for over 21+ years. Dan coached both boys 39; and girls 39; sports but was disturbed by the disparity between the two. Dan became a crusader for girls' sports not only at Pinson, but around Alabama in general. Dan fought for equal gym time for the girls as well as for quality officiating. After retiring from Pinson Dan coached at various elementary and high schools until he finally retired in 1999. Upon his retirement from Pinson a local newspaper headline read, A Pinson Legend Is Retiring. No truer words were ever written.
Dan spent his years in retirement as a stay-at-home Daddy-O to his youngest daughter Katie, where he was able to provide many services including coach, cheerleader, chauffeur but most of all her biggest fan as she pursued her love of music, especially singing. Dan was able to re-connect with many of his coaching friends and formed a group he called The Legends. The Legends consisted of many of Dan’s friends from teaching and coaching both with and against. The group would meet once a month and what started out with a few guys quickly grew to a group of around 50. Dan’s ability to bring people together continued from his childhood days growing up on Shedwick Street in Philly. If you were lucky enough to know Dan, you know he was an incredibly special man who left a positive influence on everyone whose life he touched. I was especially lucky I got to call him, “My Dad.”

Funeral arrangements are as follows:
St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church
7340 Cahaba Valley Rd.
Birmingham, AL 35242
Tuesday, August 30th , 2022
Visitation 10 am, followed by Mass at 11 am
Family asks that in lieu of flowers donations can be made to:
Special Equestrians Inc.
1215 Woodward Drive
Indian Springs, AL 35124
St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church,
Penn Medicine Development
Attn: Thomas White
3535 Market Street, Suite 750 Philadelphia, PA 19104
Please specify donation go directly to: Penn Medicine Brain Tumor Research Center in memory of Dan McGettigan

Tributes are short messages commemorating Daniel, or an expression of support to his closest family and friends. Leave your first tribute here, and others will follow.

Leave a Tribute

Light a Candle
Lay a Flower
Leave a Note
Recent Tributes
Recent stories

Invite others to Daniel's website:

Invite by email

Post to your timeline