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.
  We welcome your comments about Jack. They'll be posted below.
Please send to silaryt@phillynews.com. Thank you.  

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.
  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
Episcopal Academy
  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
CHA '12
  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.
Warmest Regards,
-- Mark Turner MSC 1975

"Play with respect for your teammates, respect for the officials and earn the respect of your
--Coach Plunkett's speech before every game (I hope I got it right)

  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.

  Since the moment he became my coach in 1992 and later to my brothers, each of us including my mother and father
have always felt a tremendous amount of comfort with Coach Plunkett. His outstanding mentorship of my brothers Rashad and Ibraheim, and the way in which has made such enduring impressions upon my family has been especially meaningful to us. We  have always cherished our relationship with Coach.
  His toughness, along with his ultra positive and encouraging style and attention to detail made him an excellent coach. These virtues were very obvious in the relationships he had with his family, CHA, his players and everyone. He inspired me not only because he was able to care about what my interests and activities were as a student, but also because he demanded that I always aspire to achieve the best. You never wanted to disappoint Coach Plunkett; I don't think it was even possible because he was such an outstanding man.
  Coach Plunkett was truly an amazing example of a man that I hope to emulate. It is not possible for me to put into words how much of an effect he has had on me, and the man I have become today.  I am deeply saddened by his passing, but I and my family find comfort knowing that his legacy will last for an eternity.
-- Aquil Stinson & The Stinson/Campbell Family

  This is news that simply left me speechless.  I have tried to no avail to put together my thoughts about Jack since I heard the tragic news.  As I sit here on Friday trying to collect my thoughts about playing a game tonight at CHA, it just seems the right moment to speak about a really Class Guy!  I have known Jack for over 30 years and have always been impressed with his ability to keep what was best for the kids he coached and taught paramount in his thoughts.  At a time when competitive juices can very easily get out of control, this was never an issue for Jack.  He was First-Class all the way.  Walking into CHA tonight and every night in the future will not be an easy task for me.  CHA, the Inter-AC, and the world of sports lost a giant this week.  My thoughts and prayers go to Jack’s family and friends …. It just won’t be the same without him……………..
-- Jim Fenerty (GA Director of Athletics)

  I never played for Jack, but I felt like I did.  I met him as an Assistant to my coach, Bill Gallagher and he easily became a friend.  You could see in the way he related to his players that he epitomized what it means to be a “coach” and a molder of young men.  What a blessing it must have been if your son had the chance to be his student.  The world is richer because of you Jack.
-- Pat Meehan CHA '74
  Our thoughts are prayers go out to the Plunkett family.
-- The Burner family

  “We are all saddened and shocked by the death of Jack Plunkett. Having coached in Philly for 12 years and being here at Rider and in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for the last three, it was easy to see what a good official and good person Jack was. He was always very professional and easy to talk to on the sidelines. The thoughts and prayers of the entire coaching staff and Rider University administration are with his family.”
 -- Rider University Women's Basketball Head Coach Lynn Milligan
  I knew that becoming a women's college basketball official was the direction I wanted to be headed as high school referee after I met Jack Plunkett. If I could be a part of a family of people that included a guy like Jack Plunkett, I said to myself, then that's where I wanted to be.  As a mentor in the early 1990's, Jack showed me and others, not only at how to get better at officiating, but more importantly how to get along better with people.  I am proud to say that he made me good enough to be able to become a partner of his at the college level, and a fellow clinician at basketball referee camps. The toughest part of camps was being introduced as the next speaker following his outstanding presentations!  But I always felt comfortable being his partner. What Jack taught me has not only helped me in officiating, but also in my career as a guidance counselor, and as a husband and father. I am sure that there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of others that Jack has made a better person - and that to me will be his legacy forever.
To Jack, a person who I am proud to have been referred to as a friend. I will greatly miss you, both on and off the court.
-- Ron DePasquale
College Women's Basketball Official
  Oh Boy..... this is not easy. All I can see is the CHA football players
leaving the church that day with tears in their eyes and sadness in their
face as they lost their coach, their Friend and their leader. Hang in there
guys!!!!!! And to Sue and their children, I hope you can find some peace in
all the great things people are writing about and have told you about Jack,
your Husband and Father. To the Plunkett family I know this has been a
horrible few years for you all. You are all in our prayers. My friendship
with Jack goes back to the early 80's playing softball together at "B" and
Wyoming" with the Phanatics watching Jack hit those towering homeruns into
the Feltonville Pool. Playing Hoop with Jack for Casey's in Jenkintown. Jack
and I also were fellow Officials and he always found a way to teach you that
one little thing that helped you on the courts whether it was positioning,
game awareness, how to deal with those coaches, or what to do physically to
help you get ready for the season. It was always exciting to flip on a
women's game on ESPN2 and see Jack doing a game. For the past 6-7 years his
brother Bob and I would break out our calendars to see when Jack's busy
schedule was open so the three of us could go play Golf at Blue Bell.  Bob
and I will be doing that alone from now on but will always have those
stories about Jack to share as well as all he has taught us. It will not be
the same without you Jack!!! Thanks for everything!!
-- "Watts"
  There hasn't been a day that goes by that I don't think of you. As time is flying football season is right around the corner. An although it hurts knowing that you're not going to be there teaching us new things, it is comforting to know that you are going to be watching us with a smile the whole way. I speak for the whole team in saying that every practice, game, film session, sprints in 90 degree heat, and every single rep we take will not only be for us, but for you. Every one of us will work our hardest to become the best we can be by using all that you have taught us. You will forever be a role model for all those who have met you. Any man that has an impact on children, teens, adults, coaches, refs, teachers, and the families that see what you have taught there loved ones must have been doing something right. I for one will take everything that I have learned from you and try my best to apply it in my everyday life. I know you can see from your seat up there next to the big man the lessons that the people you have encountered are not going to waste. You must be proud of the way you have handled yourself, handled others, and most importantly the loving family that you have raised, knowing they will carry on your lessons and actions for times to come. Rest easy Coach, and know that everyone down here loves and misses you more than you can imagine. "When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him, lies on the paths of men." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
-- Love Always,
Brett Flannery
#3 CHA Football
  I am saddened & shocked to just learn of the passing of Coach Jack Plunkett. Jack has always been a  long time respected Coach in the Philadelphia region and was always a gentleman & pleasure to deal with. In past years he has always come out to our Temple Football Practices & I anticipated seeing him any day now. My sympathies go out to the entire Plunkett family. He will surely be missed. I am certain Coach Knox will continue his legacy that he has built at Chestnut Hill Academy. Rest in Peace Coach Plunkett.
With Deepest Sorrow & Sympathy,
Patrice Cohill
Temple University Football
City All--Star Chapter Sports Hall of Fame
Eagles Philadelphia All-Star Football Classic