Reginald Garfield Warford, 67, of Pittsburgh, passed peacefully into his Lord’s arms, Thursday, May 26, 2022, in his home with his family at his side.
He was born September 15, 1954, in Greensville, Kentucky to the late Reverend Roland Hayes Warford and Valencia Dean Warford. Reginald confessed his love for Christ and dedicated his life to God and to the service of the Lord as a teenager at Bethel Baptist Church of Drakesboro, Kentucky, under the leadership of Pastor Dan Washington. He later joined Dean Memorial Church of God in Christ where his father was pastor and Bishop David L. Austin, Overseer.
Affectionately known by many as “Reggie”, Reginald grew up in the small town of Drakesboro, Kentucky. Reggie was educated at Drakesboro Community School from grades 1-5 and then Drakesboro Consolidated High School from grades 6-12. Overall, Reggie was an honor roll student and always a quick learner. As a young person growing up without financial means or formal lessons, Reggie taught himself to play the piano and guitar. He also was an amazing singer. Before his health failed, Reggie could be heard singing and loved playing the piano to his favorite song “Walk Around Heaven All Day”.
It was apparent from his youth, he was destined to become an outstanding athlete. Sports was another one of Reggie’s talents. He developed quickly with his athletic abilities as a baseball player. He was a hard pitching lefty known for his speed and control. When he turned his interest toward basketball, the results became even more amazing. He excelled on the Middle School and High School Basketball Teams. He became an All-State Basketball talent and because of his abilities on the basketball court, he was a recruit by over 130 schools including by Austin Peay University, Western Kentucky University, University of Kentucky, Indiana University, and Notre Dame University. He was awarded a Basketball Scholarship to The University of Kentucky, where he became the first African American basketball player to graduate. While there, he put notice on the Warford name and his number 15 Jersey. As a freshman, Reggie led the UK Freshman team in scoring. In his Senior year, he captained the team that won the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
Upon graduating from college, Reggie continued his love for basketball by accepting the position as Assistant Basketball Coach at Iowa State University where he was, at age 21, the youngest full-time Division I Assistant Basketball Coach in the country. He left Iowa State for a position at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. While coaching at Pitt, Reggie met and married the love of his life Marisa Bolinski on May 26, 1990. His love for his wife and the desire to worship together nudged him to join her in the Catholic Faith. Their union brought two sons and an extended family of love. Reggie’s unwavering love as a husband, father, and brother has always been a badge of honor he proudly wore. As he traveled to continue his coaching career at Long Beach State University in California and the Legendary Harlem Globetrotters, he always included his family. As Reggie’s coaching career neared its end, he returned to college to obtain his Master’s degree in Education. His desire was to be an influence in shaping the lives of young men. He was afforded the opportunity to return to his former High School, now reformed as named Muhlenberg County High School, Greensville, Kentucky, as Head Basketball Coach. The highlight of it was he had the chance to coach his sons, Grant and Tyler, and nephew, Chris, who were a part of the Mustang Team. His first year at the helm as Head Coach of the Mustangs, he took the Mustangs to the Kentucky State High School Championship tournament and was one of the founding class inducted into the Muhlenberg County High School Hall of Fame. One of the pinnacle experiences of his career was being inducted into the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) Hall of Fame where his family and friends joined him in celebrating this pivotal occasion.
In addition to Reggie’s ability on the basketball court, he possessed strong character and leadership skills. Reggie has always been a selfless individual, thinking of others first. While at the University of Kentucky, he persuaded other African American basketball players to consider coming to UK. Reggie was a selfless player and, another example of his character, was when he pulled two people out of their burning house, saving their lives. Because of his heroic act of bravery, he was awarded the Kentucky Medal of Valor, the highest honor bestowed on a person by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and received a letter of commendation from President Ronald Reagan. Reggie was humbled by the fact that he was named to three Hall of Fames as well as a street and a park in his hometown of Drakesboro named after him.
So much can be said about Reginald Garfield Warford. Reggie’s love of life will always be evident to all who know him. His bright smile warmed the hearts of each person fortunate enough to have come to know him. His positivity of life was contagious and encouraging. Challenged by health problems, Reggie was a pillar of strength in the face of all he endured, never once complaining, or questioning why me. He would undergo several organ transplants, yet he still would not surrender to the pain or challenges of recovery. He would maintain his faith and dependence in Jesus Christ. Always having his unwavering solid support of his partner Marisa at his side. His faith in Christ was the ultimate testimony of his love for God. That was evident as he loved to read and meditate on his favorite book of the Bible and study the character of Job. And one day say as Job “I know that my redeemer lives, and I myself will see him with my own eyes”.
He was preceded in death by his mother and father, four siblings, sisters Pamela Warford and Velma Jean Warford McKinney; brothers William “Billy” and Derrick Warford; and his mother-in-law Joan Bolinski.
He leaves to cherish his memory, his loving wife of 32 years, Marisa Bolinski Warford; two sons, Grant Reginald and Tyler Reginald Warford; and father-in-law, Maurice “Beau” Bolinski, all of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Reggie also leaves to celebrate his life, a brother, Rev. Dr. Ronald Dean (Doris) Warford of Katy, Texas; two sisters, Thelma Joyce Freeman and Sharon Denise (Thaddeus) Greene; and brother-in-law Darryl McKinney Sr. all of San, Antonio, Texas, two sisters-in-law, Karen (Jack) Bolinski Rentko of Myrtle Beach, SC and Christine (Jim) Bolinski Florio, of Plains, Pennsylvania; and brother-in-law Jeff (Sue) Bolinski, of Pittsburgh, PA; and a host of nieces, nephew, cousins, and friends.
Friends and family will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 Thursday, in South Hills Bible Chapel, 300 Gallery Dr., McMurray, PA 15317, where a celebration of Reggie’s life will be held at 10:00 a.m., Friday, June 3, 2022, with his brother the Rev. Dr. Ronald D. Warford officiating. Interment will follow in Queen of Heaven Cemetery, McMurray.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the McIlvaine-Speakman Funeral Home Ltd., Robert K. McIlvaine, Owner/Supervisor, Sara K. McIlvaine-Page FD, 27 Cherry Ave., Houston, PA 15342.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the American Heart Association at www.heart.org.
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