ARCHBOLD, Ohio — Joseph T. Furko, Jr., an educator and coach who closed his career in the Archbold school district, died Thursday in Family Hospice & Palliative Care, Pittsburgh. He was 72.
He had pancreatic cancer, his daughter, Kimberly, said. He’d lived with her in Pittsburgh the last six months. In retirement, he and his late wife, Judy, lived at Lake Havasu, Ariz.
Mr. Furko retired from Archbold Area Local Schools in 1995 as a guidance counselor, although he continued to coach on occasion.
As an assistant football coach, Mr. Furko was defensive coordinator. He also coached wrestling and boys’ and girls’ junior high track. He’d learned before his death of his induction this fall into the Archbold Athletic Hall of Fame.
“It’s long overdue you might say,” said John Downey, who retired in 2009 after 30 years as head coach of Archbold Blue Streaks football. “He had a real power influence on the youth of Archbold.”
The 1988 Archbold football team — on which Mr. Furko’s son, Joey, played — won a state title.
“It was an outstanding time in my life,” his son said. “We practiced together. Came home together. It’s not many kids who can win a state title and come off the field and the first person they hug is their father.”
Mr. Furko conveyed his knowledge and passion for education and sports in school and on the field, Mr. Downey said.
“He was very thorough,” Mr. Downey said. “He coached a very aggressive style of defense and got our kids to play with the same kind of passion that he had.”
Mr. Furko continued to get weekly phone calls from Archbold alumni.
“He made such a connection with those kids, not only his athletes, but students in school,” Mr. Downey said. “He touched an awful lot of lives. Those kids never forgot what he did for them.”
Mr. Furko was an assistant football and basketball coach in the Liberty Center Local Schools, where he taught elementary school math.
He was in the Liberty Center Athletic Hall of Fame and received a lifetime achievement award from the Northwest Ohio Football Coaches Association.
He made exercise and fitness part of his routine. He golfed. He ran and took part in 5K and 10K events. Most recently he liked to watch his grandson — Joseph “JT” Furko IV — wrestle and play football.
Mr. Furko was born on Jan. 28, 1942, to Mary and Joseph T. Furko, in Oakmont, Pa., and was a graduate of Springdale High School, where he played guard on the football team. He received his bachelor’s degree from Defiance College, where he played football. He later received a master’s degree from the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind.
He and his wife, Helen “Judy” Furko — known as “Gibby” to her family — married Aug. 28, 1965. She died May 9, 2013.
Surviving are his daughter Kimberly Loughran; son Joseph Furko III; mother Mary Furko; sister Virginia Buehrer, and a grandson.
A celebration of life service is scheduled for 2 p.m. April 12 in the Knights of Columbus hall in Archbold. Arrangements are by the Charles B. Jarvie Funeral Homes, Springdale, Pa.
The family suggests tributes to Archbold Athletic Boosters; Dynamo Education Foundation in Cheswick, Pa., or Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.