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Santa Barbara News-Press : KOVATCH, John Paul

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KOVATCH, John Paul


November 8, 2013 5:56 AM

101, passed away peacefully in his home on October 11, 2013. He was born in South Bend, Indiana, on June 6, 1912, to parents who had emigrated from Budapest Hungary. After high school, he attended Northwestern University, working and paying his own way. There he became a 'consensus' All American football player, played in the East/West shrine game, and caught the winning touchdown pass in the Allstar game played in Soldier Field, Chicago. He was drafted by the Cleveland Rams of the NFL and, at 101 years of age, was the second oldest former NFL player at the time of his death.

He met his future wife, Rowena LaVergne Loop, at Northwestern University and they married in 1939. After coaching football for two years at Indiana University, he became the end and line coach at Northwestern University and was coaching under Bob Voigts when they won the Rose Bowl Game, 20 to 14, over the University of California in 1949. After also coaching one year each for the University of Nebraska and the University of Kansas, he settled in Elmhurst, Illinois, and taught science at York High School for 20 years before retiring to Santa Barbara, California, in 1977.

John was a self-made man, a one-of-a-kind real character, and could easily be the life of the party with his stories. He was an inspirational speaker (he gave graduation speeches at several colleges). He could still recite Shakespeare until shortly before his death. He was always willing to help his friends, and on several occasions, took one or another to the hospital in the middle of the night. He was devoted to his family, and cared for his wife, Rowena, at home by himself for almost ten years after she had acquired Alzheimers disease.

John is survived by his only child, Steve, (wife Marge), and two grandchildren, John Kenneth Kovatch and Kathryn Kovatch Bachinski. His life was blessed immeasurably by caring neighbors and friends. He was able to remain in his home until his death because of his devoted grandson, who lived with him and was his caretaker and soulmate for the last three years. The two had a special bond. John will be truly missed.

 


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