Penn State Mourns Passing Stanley “Whitey” Von Nieda
Von Nieda was former Penn State basketball player and NBA’s oldest living alumnus
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics and the Penn State men’s basketball program mourn the passing of former Nittany Lion basketball player Stanley “Whitey” Von Nieda. The oldest alumnus in NBA history, Von Nieda passed away last week at 101 years old.
“The Penn State men’s basketball family extends our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Stanley ‘Whitey’ Von Nieda,” said Penn State head coach Mike Rhoades. “A pioneer of the game we love and one of the first great Penn State basketball players, we are saddened by his passing but inspired by the life he lived and the legacy he leaves behind.”
Von Nieda, a 6-1 forward and native of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, played for the Nittany Lions during the 1942-43 season and helped Penn State to a 15-4 record. He then enlisted in the Army and served his country as a paratrooper during and after World War II, including parachuting behind German lines during the Battle of the Bulge.
Von Nieda returned to classes at Penn State following his deployment and began his professional career by playing for the Lancaster Red Roses of the Eastern Basketball League on the weekends. He signed with the Tri-Cities Blackhawks in 1948 where he was coached by Red Auerbach. At the time, the Blackhawks played in the National Basketball League, which later merged with the Basketball Association of America to form the NBA. Von Nieda played his one “official” NBA season in 1949-50 with Tri-Cities and the Baltimore Bullets, playing in 59 games and averaging 5.3 points and 2.4 assists per game before an injury ended his playing career.
Following his retirement from the NBA, Von Nieda was the head men’s basketball coach at Elizabethtown College for three seasons before entering a career in advertising and continuing to play in semi-pro leagues.
Von Nieda was honored by the National Basketball Retired Players Association in June 2022 for becoming the first former NBA player to live to 100.