Jack Plunkett Tribute Page
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Jack Plunkett, a
long-time teacher/coach at Chestnut Hill Academy, and described as "the
moral compass of the school" by football coach Rick Knox,
passed away of a heart attack 1/12/10. Jack was the head coach for 24
seasons, through 2004, and since then had assisted Knox, his former player
and a '92 grad.
Information on services:
All at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 606 West Avenue, Jenkintown, PA 19046
Sunday, Jan. 17, viewing, 3 to 8 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 18, viewing, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; Mass of Christian Burial to follow at 11 a.m.
Your Contributions . . .
MY PRAYERS are with the PLUNKETT family, I met
JACK @ the catholic league basketball camps I attended.
he was so very helpful in helping me become a better referee. always had a smile & something helpful to say.
i always enjoyed his presence @ camp. so i know his close family & friends will be missing a true man in every sense of the word.
MAY GOD BLESS THE PLUNKETT FAMILY!!!
-- WILLIAM (BIG GAME) WILLIAMS
Jack was a "one of a kind" friend and person. He was a mentor and
sounding board for so many of his students, friends and fellow
officials. He would talk basketball official technique to anyone who
would listen and was always available to give a rules interpretation on
any situation that you would encounter on the court. Whenever I would
get my Catholic league basketball schedule at the beginning of the
season I would always check to see how many games I would get to do with
Jack, he could make the toughest game a walk in the park if he was your
I had the opportunity to work in Japan for several years and one time I
was heading back through Honolulu. When I jumped on the shuttle to the
airport I noticed a young man and his family on the bus with a Chestnut
Hill shirt. Of course I asked how Jack was and the whole trip was spent
by this family telling me what a great guy he was and how much he did
for their son and the school. The young man was getting ready to attend
the University of Penn that fall. That was a typical reaction of
everyone that came in contact with Jack, always giving and never
expecting anything in return. He will be sadly missed.
-- Paul Kitchen
I have known Jack since the early '70s when we coached together at CHA. He has been a huge contributor to every step of CHA's football and its return to glory. And it wasn't necessarily the Xs and Os. It was the manner in which he related to the players, the coaches and the families. Caring, compassionate, classy. We often spoke of what we referred to as the greatest fraternity of all---the fraternity of football players and coaches. That fraternity has lost one of its most loyal brothers! I'll miss the fraternity hugs we exchanged every time we met!
-- Bill Gallagher
My exposure to Jack was at Joe DeMayo’s basketball referee camps, and Joe had him work as one of his primary observers. You could tell that this was a labor of love, as he wore a constant smile and his critiques and observations were much like a teacher counseling students that he really liked. He must have been a great teacher and coach. His attentiveness and counseling were such that anybody walking away from it was a better official. He will be sorely missed. My heart goes out to the Plunkett family and the CHA community.
-- Bob Hamburger
What a Class Guy. Always in control. He helped so many kids What a loss. Our Prayers are with his family.
-- Bob Dillon
Coach Plunkett was the best person who I have encountered at CHA. He was the first person in the morning to say, with that big smile he always had, "Hey Jame". It was that greeting that always put a smile on my face. He was the mentor on the football field who i turned to when i had any question. No matter what it was, Coach Plunkett knew the answer and gave the answer with that big smile and in a way that made me feel like i mattered. When i came into school on that tuesday, i was told as soon as i walked in... I stopped in my tracks. I didn't know how to react i just put my head down and walked into school and onto the chapel. As i listened to the Headmaster, Mr. Steel, talk about Coach, i sat there thinking about every encounter, every conversation, and every smile. I smiled about how we would talk about football and the wing t offense that he despised, and how every time i brought it up with him there would be a laugh. He was there in my first JV game, when the on the second play I let up a small 10 yard hitch that turned into a big play. He took me over and said Jame you just gotta see him break down and attack that shoulder. And wouldn't you know it next time they threw that route on me, i jumped the route and had my first interception at CHA. I went over and thanked him but he said he didn't do anything but help me do something i already knew how to do. That's who he was. The nicest coach who just knew what to say and how to say it. In my eyes there will never be another person who could come into my life and impact me so greatly.
Coach, Thank You,
-- Jamie Young
I had the privilege of knowing Jack and Sue for many years. I played softball with him for the Colonial Inn and I cherish every moment I had with him My heart and prayers go out to Sue and Sheila and Kevin and the whole Plunkett family at this time.
There have been so many words written already that remind us of what Jack stood for, that I think a fitting tribute would be for all of us to try and spread a little of "Jack" every day!
A smile here or there, A kind word or helping hand to someone who doesn't expect it.
You could never repay Jack for his kindness, you could only pass it on ! I think he would like it if all of us tried to pass his kindness on!
-- Tony Coulter
Mr. Plunkett's passing affected me very deeply. He was a constant presence during my 13 years at CHA and a constant source of support, encouragement, and developmental guidance. He was my physical education teacher during elementary school, a coach during high school and the beloved father of one of my classmates; therefore, we were blessed with his presence during all phases of our K-12 experience. As a student who was never the most heavily involved in athletics, he always granted me as well as all of his students a highly individualized compassion so that gym class could simply be FUN. In sixth grade, he spent a week with four other classmates and me on our sailboat, Centurion. We sailed across the Chesapeake with Mr. Plunkett helping us function as a crew. It is without a doubt that the sailing trip was perhaps one of my life's best experiences because we shared it with Mr. Plunkett and I thank him for being such an important, consistent, compassionate, and purely benevolent force in my life. In yiddush, we call him a mensch, or an overall good person. My blessings go to Sean and the rest of his family and I wish you peace and a great sense of pride when you are reminded of how many people, like me, have been blessed to have been helped, taught, or just to have known Mr. Plunkett.
-- Mitch Sternlieb, C'04
I wrote about Jack's teams on and off from 1987 to 2002, and I can safely say his teams would have won my personal sportsmanship award most of those years and been in the running when they didn't.
Jack saw football as a way to teach young men about life experiences and how to become better people. He liked to win but doing things the right way was more important. Unlike many screaming lunatic football coaches, Jack was an educator and molder of men.
My favorite story: sometime in the late 90's I am covering a game at Chestnut Hill; it's close, and it's a game CHA needs, but midway through the 4th quarter the CHA punter makes a mistake and you knew right away the game was over. I am standing near Jack and I watch the fist on his right hand clench, and release, three or four times as the poor punter walks -- slowly -- towards Jack.
Almost any other coach would have been screaming and shouting at the kid. Jack waited until the punter was close, put his arm around him and quietly spoke to him. No humiliation, no yelling -- just a lesson taught. Those fist clenches were how Jack showed the frustration he felt about losing -- he didn't have scream about it.
I have been a scholastic sportswriter and editor for 23 years and there are a very few men I would let a son of mine play football for. Jack Plunkett was one of them.
My thoughts and prayers to Jack's family and the entire CHA community. While the loss is agonizing and tragic and far too early, we can rejoice in having had the chance to know one of the best men I have had the privilege to meet in my career in the all-too-short time he spent with us.
Vaya comn dios, my friend.
-- Brad Wilson
Jack Plunkett was not only CHA football, but from the outpouring of support from our community it is clear that he is in many ways CHA itself. He embodied and taught everything that the school stands for. He was a tremendous coach, who brought CHA football out of some very tough years in the early 1980's to be the class in every way of the Independence league. He did this by deeply caring for his players like they were his own children and inspiring them to succeed. Mostly importantly, he taught them how to be upstanding men along the way. This is most significantly who Jack Plunkett was and is as a person. His mission in life was to work with young people and make their day more enjoyable and forge them into better people. It touches my heart deeply to see the sentiments of our community on the facebook page "Prayers for the Plunketts" as this is living proof of Jack's life and legacy. The world is surely a better place because of him.
I can undoubtedly say that I personally am a better person and very much the man that I am today for having played for him, coached against and with him, and more importantly been his friend. In the last 5 years coaching with him, I have memories that will last a lifetime and keep him alive in my heart. I am honored to be able continue his legacy and help guide the CHA football program forward. Not a day, practice, game, or season will go by without his memory and impact being felt in and around our program. He will continue to inspire and motivate our team as we strive to be a program that would make him proud. I am eternally grateful to our players and coaches, who over the past seasons helped bring our program to the place that it now stands. You all must know how proud coach Plunkett was of you, and that our recent success brought him immense joy and pride. This brings me solace right now in these tough times knowing how much he cherished the experience of coaching these past years.
In the end, I only hope that I can hold up to his standards. He has very much helped mold me as a coach and person. Even if his voice can not be heard over the phones during games, his spirit will be heard. And don't worry Jack, I won't let coach McArdle blitz on the first play of every game, and I will do my best to throw the ball more than 5 times a game. Lastly, I just hope that I can have even half of the positive impact that he has had on this CHA community. If I can do that, I will have been successful and honored him.
To the Plunkett family, I offer my deepest sympathy. I am sure their was not a better father, husband, son, or brother. May your memories of him and gods grace help you in these trying times. If I or my family can ever support you, we are only 5 minutes away down Jenkintown Road. I can stop at Joe's Market and bring dinner over any day of the week.
-- Rick Knox
Head Football Coach
Chestnut Hill Academy
I had the great opportunity to be a teammate of Jack Plunkett at Mansfield University from 1971-1974. I never met a finer man. Jack was a defensive captain on our team and an exceptional player. Off the field Jack was one of the kindest people I’ve known. On the field Jack took on a different persona and he was a relentless high motor linebacker that just never quit. We didn’t win a lot of games at Mansfield but anyone that played with Jack came away as a better player and a better person. Jack truly was a winner. My condolences go out to the Plunkett family. You lost a great husband and father and we lost a great teammate.
-- Mark Turner MSC 1975
I cant believe Coach Plunkett is no longer with us. We had a great relationship as I was the young student - athlete, and he as my coach, but I grew an even greater respect for him as I visited CHA as an adult.