Posted: 4:56 pm Monday, January 11th, 2010

Pahokee legend Web Pell passes away at 91 

By Jason Lieser

Charles Weider “Web” Pell, a long-time football coach at Pahokee High School who some credit for laying the foundation for the football team as it rose to be among the nation’s elite programs, died Sunday. He was 91.

Mr. Pell coached the team from 1952-68 and was inducted into The Palm Beach County Hall of Fame in March.

“He was looked upon as the developer of modern Pahokee football,” former Blue Devils coach Don Thompson said. “It was played with intensity and guts.

“It was played to get kids to college. Every kid looked and dreamed of playing football for him.”

Thompson was a middle linebacker under Mr. Pell before graduating in 1959 and moving on to play at The Citadel.

He said Mr. Pell’s influence transcended sports and Thompson named one of his sons William Pell Thompson in his honor.

“He was an inspiration to me all of my life,” Thompson said. “No matter what happened in my life, he was always a person to encourage me. He did that with all of his players.”

Mr. Pell, who passed away in his Okeechobee home, had been suffering from dementia for the past 10 years, his daughter Peggy Krogel said.

Born on Sept. 1, 1918 in West Virginia, he attended Davis (W.V.) High School before starring in basketball at Marshall University. Krogel said her father earned the nickname “Web” while playing there in the 1940s.

He initially went by “Spider” because it rhymed with his middle name and the moniker evolved to “Spider Web” and simply, “Web.”

Mr. Pell was a Navy pilot from 1939 until 1945, when he married his wife, Jane. He had lived in Okeechobee since 1970.

Despite his dementia, Mr. Pell continued to support the Pahokee football team whenever possible, his daughter said. He attended games in 2008.

“His entire life was dedicated to young people and their development,” Krogel said.

“He was a role model with that. Four of his children went into education and coaching.”

Longtime Cardinal Newman football coach and athletic director Sam Budnyk was among those who voted for Mr. Pell’s induction into the county hall of fame.

“He belonged with us,” said Budnyk, who was inducted to the hall in 1983 and retired from coaching in 2008. “He was a great man in the high school coaching profession and he really is one of the giants of Palm Beach County football.”

Along with his wife and Krogel, Mr. Pell is survived by six other children. He is preceded in death by his two brothers, Patrick and Bill.

Funeral services for Mr. Pell will be Saturday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Okeechobee at 11 a.m. Visitation will begin at 10:30.

He will be buried in his hometown of Davis, W.V.