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."
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.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by daughters Meagan, Lauren and Lindsay. All three played or are playing college basketball.
A private funeral service will be held Monday in North Carolina.