And the oldest living Bison basketball player is…

Elise Covert, Sports Co-Editor

“Did you know that I’ll be 100 years old in July?” Joe Diblin ’40 asked me with a smile. He is the oldest living Bison varsity basketball player, and a loyal fan who still occasionally returns to Sojka Pavilion to watch games, which is where I first encountered him.

Raised in New Jersey, Diblin won all-state basketball honors, earning him a basketball scholarship to play at the University. He played on the Bison basketball team from his freshman to junior year, but was unable to play during his senior year because of job commitments. His basketball teammates donned him with the nickname “Double Dribblin’ Diblin,” which he still chuckles thinking about. He was also a soccer player for the Orange and Blue, as well as being a member of the very first golf team in University history. As a senior, Diblin served as senior captain of the soccer team.

Diblin graduated in the summer of 1940 with a B.A. in Literature and History, as well as a teaching certification. He then went into the service during World War II, volunteering in Army aviation. Stationed in various locations around the United States, he was a test pilot and a pilot instructor. After serving for the entirety of the war, he retired from the Armed Forces as Lieutenant Colonel with his pilot’s wings. During his career, Diblin piloted for many famous figures, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Arnold Palmer.

Once he returned to Lewisburg, Diblin worked in various posts for the University and surrounding community. After five years teaching at Lewisburg High School, he served for a sixth year as the high school principal. During the same period, he was hired as the Bison varsity men’s soccer head coach for two years, leading the team to a League championship in that time.

He also taught three night and weekend classes at the University: a private pilot course, an “air age” workshop for teachers, and driver’s education for teachers. Diblin was also recruited by former University President Herbert Spencer to help Spencer and his daughter obtain their pilot licenses.

After that education-based stint, though he loved working with students, Diblin returned to aviation, “his other love,” working for a company in Williamsport. He worked in aviation for a total of 40 years before retirement.

His gratitude to the University for his experiences as an undergraduate, graduate student, and employee is both implicit and explicit; Diblin has a plethora of fond memories and recollections from his time at the University and living in Lewisburg afterwards. When I asked what advice he would give to current students, he hesitated for a moment.

“I’m not very wise,” Diblin said. “But I would say enjoy your college education while you work at it because it’s some of the best years of your life.”

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