M

A SPECIAL MEMORIAL TRIBUTE
TO OUR BELOVED "COACH JAN"

by Howie Levy

 

 

Plaque displayed in Oceanside High School's Athletic Hall of Fame, founded in 1960 by Coach Jan

  

There is no doubt that Frank Januszewski was, for his entire long career, easily one of the most popular members of the faculty at Oceanside High School. Coach Jan, as we all knew him, was loved by all he came in contact with but especially the generations of OHS students who served on his teams or were lucky enough to be in his phys. ed. classes and, as Jay Katz said, to be "challenged by him to be the best we could, to never hang our heads, to get up every time we were knocked down — and to love ... and learn from every experience, whether good or bad."

Starting his OHS career in 1956 after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in both WWII and the Korean War, Coach Jan was, at times, coach of our soccer, baseball, and tennis teams, but his passion was basketball for which he led the Sailors to five league titles and two Nassau County championships and was named Nassau County Coach of the Year, the first  during the 1959 school year (team led by Art Heyman) and again in 1961. He was the creator of the OHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 1960 and a charter, first round Circle of Pride inductee in 2003.             


Photo from Newsday

 

Coach Jan was well known for his sense of humor throughout the  community even well after he retired (in 1988)for the "roasts" of honorees that he presented at numerous awards dinners. As appeared in the  LI Herald  on September 26, 2017, he was " best known for his humor, compassion and heart, which was said to have matched his 6-foot-4-inch frame. ...  During his tenure at OHS, Januszewski manned the microphone at school events, bringing his sense of energy and humor." His passing on September 16, 2017, at age 89, was mourned by the entire Oceanside community that he devoted his life to.

In the words of Seth J. Blau, OHS class of 1988, (as posted September 16, 2017, on Facebook, to which hundreds of comments and "likes" were added), "I would credit his sincere appreciation and value of preserving our community's history as one of his greatest legacies. Instead of throwing out old pictures and records, which was not uncommon, Coach Jan preserved and displayed our local history and established the School District's Athletic Hall of Famee — one of the few historical repositories that the Oceanside community has." Seth Blau is a labor lawyer who is currently a member of the Oceanside School Board and President of the local Kiwanis Club. The following photos were also posted on Facebook by Seth Blau, who is shown at the right:

  

  
Our Coach Jan is featured on p. 30 of  Legendary Locals of Oceanside by our friend, author and retired
OHS teacher, Richie Woods, OHS class of 1976, where Richie wrote, "he has done nothing but love this community and its people."

According to Newsday, Richie said  "Januszewski was a mentor to him as a coach, teacher and person." According to the  LI Herald, Richie also said upon his passing, "It’s a tremendous loss. He was such a cornerstone of the community for so long.”

For details of Coach Jan's life, read the full obituaries published on September 19, 2017, in Newsday and on September 26, 2017, in the LI Herald.

  

The Class of 1960 was fortunate, indeed, to have Coach Jan and and his loving wife, Diane, as our guests at our 45-year "rockin' 'n' rollin' sea cruise" reunion in 2005, where the following three photos were taken. As an example of Coach Jan's sense of humor, when asked that night by one of the Katz twins if he'd ever seen our class website, he addressed his affirmative response to me true to his personality and his classic roasting style saying, "And I am very proud of you, Howie — because in high school you were nothing." (It's nice to be remembered.)  I was practically rolling on the floor laughing!

  

Coach Jan's expression of pride in me in connection with this website was clearly a reflection of his lifetime passion for preserving the past and its relationships. This was the central theme of the very moving eulogy delivered at his funeral by his loving son, Jerry. Following are some selected comments, highly consistent with the theme and purpose of this site, made by Jerry Januszewski at his Dad's funeral:

  • "Anyone who knew my father well would see that the biggest theme of his life, the steel cord that ran through everything he did, had to do with the importance of remembering the past. It tore at his conscience that the good lives of men and women of his community would go unrecognized and unremembered. He believed we are the recipients of many generations of toil and that we should recognize that. And so his devotion to the various tasks of sustaining memories was born of a very, very deep and far reaching passion to remember the past. ... He simply would not allow the memories of his community to pass into obscurity."

  • "He understood, in a visionary way, that remembering how the past contributes to and forms the present was indispensable for understanding very the meaning of life. ... "There is some deep need — a beautiful, human need — to recall the past, make sense of it, and proclaim it to the present."

  • "Active remembering and reflecting on the past takes us beyond sentimentality to a truer understanding of our past selves, so we can then proclaim something meaningful and true to our present selves. And what is “the past”? To my father, the past was not merely the recollection of enjoyable activities, misfortunes suffered, awards won, or duties completed. For him the past consisted of relationships. Relationships are what matters about memories."

 

Coach Jan was a favorite, not only among the guys, but he was popular with the girls, too.

Here he is shown in 2005 with our one and only Doreen sitting on his lap. Legend has it that Coach Jan gave Doreen Silverstein her nickname, "Twig."

Seated with his wife, Diane, and fellow faculty member, Harriet Strongin

   

  

Coach Jan posing with Coach Roy Chernock, both flanked by the Katz twins (Jay at left and the late Mike, at right)

  

When we learned of Coach Jan's passing, on behalf of our class we sadly arranged for a beautiful bouquet of flowers —  most fittingly in all blue and white — to be displayed at the funeral home. The special card we made to accompany the flowers bore an image of the Hall of Fame plaque shown above and the following heartfelt message:

   

On the outside, our card said, "We Remember Coach Jan"!

 

Reproduced below is the lovely thank you note sent on behalf of the Januszewski family by the Coach's youngest daughter, Jill Januszewski Krol, OHS class of 1983 (also a first round inductee of the Hall of Fame's Circle of Pride).

 

         

Coach Jan's daughter, Jill wrote the following to me immediately after viewing this page:

"Thank you so much for sending me this lovely tribute to Dad. I can't tell you how wonderful it is for us to hear from Dad's former students especially the ones from Dad's early teaching and coaching years.  To think that you all still remember him so well and went to this trouble when he was your teacher almost 60 years ago is deeply moving.

"A man came up to me at the wake who played for Dad for just one season in 1956. He said he loved Dad and just had to be there. That really stayed with me, just more assurance that Dad really had a strong and positive impact on his students and players. I know all of his hard work, commitment, and dedication paid off in the form of changed lives. Two other gentlemen who could not have afforded college otherwise, approached me separately within hours of each other and told me that Dad directly arranged for college scholarships for them, which changed the whole course of their lives. They both became teachers and coaches and credited him for their many current blessings. These were just a few of hundreds of kind words and beautiful stories we heard from many people, which truly eased the burden of our loss. You and your association are a part of a community who comforted us and blessed us with your loving words about Dad. 

"I forwarded your email to all of my siblings whom I know will be equally touched. I can't wait to show my Mom, too. She will really love it. Thanks again."

[Click here to see what Jill wrote us about our site.]

 
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