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Kaye Cowher, wife of former Steelers coach, dies at age 54

Posted July 24, 2010
Updated July 25, 2010

Kaye Cowher, the wife of ex-Steelers coach Bill Cowher and a former basketball player at North Carolina State and in the now-defunct Women's Professional Basketball League, has died of skin cancer. She was 54.

Cowher died Friday in her native North Carolina, where the family relocated at her urging during Cowher's final year as coach in 2006, one season after the Steelers won the Super Bowl. The family had lived since in Raleigh.

"Kaye was such a loving and compassionate person and she was the foundation of our family," Bill Cowher, now an NFL analyst with CBS, said in a statement Saturday. "Kaye was always at my side throughout my career as a player, coach, NFL analyst and, most importantly, as a parent to our three daughters."

He added: "Kaye was the rock that we could all lean on in the tough times. She was looked up to by so many people and I cannot say enough about what Kaye meant to our family."

Kaye Cowher and other family members were often seen cheering from a private box at Steelers home games during Bill Cowher's 15 seasons as coach from 1992-2006. The Steelers lost four AFC championship games - all at home - before finally winning the Super Bowl, and Kaye Cowher was repeatedly seen consoling her husband following those defeats.

Steelers president Art Rooney II said: "Kaye was a very private person who was very devoted to her family. Kaye made many friends in our organization and our community."

The Cowhers met at North Carolina State, where Bill played linebacker before beginning an NFL career. They married in 1981, after the former Kaye Young played alongside twin sister Faye in college and during a three-season pro basketball career.

After leading North Carolina State to a 29-5 record and the first Atlantic Coast Conference women's title in 1978, the sisters played one season with the New York Stars and two with the New Jersey Gems in a league that was a forerunner to the WNBA. During the twins' WPBL careers, they filmed a Wrigley Doublemint gum commercial.

At the time of her death, Kaye Cowher served on the North Carolina State Board of Visitors, which advises the school's chancellor and board of trustees. The Cowhers returned to Raleigh even before Bill Cowher's NFL coaching career ended partly because of their close ties to the university and the friends they made during college.

Besides her husband, Kaye Cowher is survived by daughters Meagan, Lauren and Lindsay. Meagan and Lauren played basketball at Princeton and Lindsay plays at Wofford.

A private funeral service will be held Monday in North Carolina.

45 Comments

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  • ramndfam4 Jul 25, 11:35 a.m.

    To the Cowher family, My deepest condolences for your loss. May your fond memories help you through these times.

  • rhowerton Jul 25, 10:52 a.m.

    So Sorry God Needed Her The Most. May God Bless & Look Over The Family At This Time Of sorrow

  • VikingTom Jul 25, 8:18 a.m.

    This is terrible news. R.I.P. and God bless coach and family

  • RedStatesManWatts Jul 25, 1:04 a.m.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cowher family during this difficult time. Our family are lifetime Steelers and Wolfpack fans and it is a loss to our family. May God continue to be with the Cowher family and bless them as always.

  • GOPACK80 Jul 25, 12:42 a.m.

    Sounds like melanoma quickly spread to her brain.
    This is incredibly sad for the Cowher family.
    RIP Kaye.
    ============================================================
    ============

    5-26-2010,
    "I think that I mentioned before that the company that I work for has had the landscape contract for Bill Cowher's house here in Raleigh. Unfortunately in my position I might get around to these jobs like 1-2 times a year sometimes more...

    Well this time last year I remember talking to both of them and everything seemed to be fine. New house, New Dog and loving North Ridge country club life.

    Well I was there just the other day to find out that Kaye was suffering from cancer. She is battling it out but man I think she suffered some adverse affects from the Chemo treatments which appear as if she had suffered from a stroke.

    Honestly it kinda scared me and it really makes you think how fragile life is and how it seems as if we are all just a step away from an accident/sickness ect... "

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Jul 24, 11:43 p.m.

    Wondering if she was diagnosed prior to Bill resigning as the Steelers Coach. May be the main reason he resigned. I'll give them credit for keeping it under wraps so the fasmily could deal with it in private.

  • monkeyboy Jul 24, 11:04 p.m.

    steeler nation is in mourning. so sorry for your loss, bill.

    the flag flies at half staff for kaye...

  • Boot-the-DC-Tyrant Jul 24, 6:58 p.m.

    So sorry to hear of this. Praying for the family as she was so young and full of life.

  • fhunt1031 Jul 24, 6:52 p.m.

    Coach, You have my deepest sympathy, and i am there is alot of hang in theresteeler fans mourning you loss.

  • Deacons Jul 24, 6:49 p.m.

    I am very sorry to hear of this. Yes, I am aware of the various ways to get skin cancer. I have to go to my Dermatologist every 6 months to have places frozen and have some biopsies taken. It really does make me sick when I see these young girls who think they look so good because they have a dark tan. I always think, one day they will regret it.

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