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The Tentacle


September 6, 2007

R.I.P. Jack Molesworth

John W. Ashbury

William Shakespeare once wrote "The evil that men do lives after them, / The good is oft interred with their bones." That won't be the case with Jack Molesworth.

When he passed away last week from complications from a fall in which he broke his neck, the outpouring of affections was nearly overwhelming. But that came from friends and relatives who knew him best.

It is ironic that the injury he received was the very one he feared most for his players when he coached football.

For generations of young men and women, his legacy will remain with them for the rest of their lives. For thousands who never met him, his accomplishments in training those who were struggling to reach adulthood will remain a quiet heritage. He helped shape their lives in ways foreign to most of them. But it worked wonders.

The news of his passing was followed by newspaper articles and commentaries which - for the most part - listed the facts of his life, but failed to provide the flavor of this man who dedicated his long life to the betterment of the society into which he was born.

He was a teacher. Can anything greater be said? He used his unique abilities to coach football at Frederick High, Governor Thomas Johnson High and Western Maryland College. His record - on which every coach is graded - wasn't spectacular. When introducing him to someone new, a friend said that Jack was the coach at Western Maryland and had a perfect record - 0 and 10. Jack roared with a magnificent groan.

When he finally retired for good, Jack became a faithful member of The Coffee Club, which has been meeting in downtown Frederick for more than 50 years. When the group moved to East Patrick Street's Village Restaurant location, Jack was usually to first to arrive on Saturday mornings so he could park in a loading zone to avoid having to pay the parking meters.

The Coffee Club is where a lot of us got to know Jack. He had a wonderful sense of humor that raised its voice in some very unusual ways.

While politics isn't always the topic at The Coffee Club, it does come up frequently. Jack let it be known that he wasn't going to talk politics, that it wasn't a proper subject for the club.

One day many were complaining about how Mayor Jennifer Dougherty was conducting Frederick City business. After a few minutes, Jack piped up and said: "I think she's the best mayor we've ever had." Silence followed for about five seconds. Then everyone realized that he was pulling their collective leg. He just didn't want to conversation to degenerate into a raucous argument, as often happen which politics comes up. But those in public office knew that Jack followed their careers, for he told them so.

Another friend recalled that Jack often came to his house for Super Bowl parties. "Jack was always first into the rec room to get the best seat in front of the TV."

Jack loved the old Baltimore Colts and, oh, how he loved retelling stories about the great years of that team. A voracious reader, Jack would buy any book about the Colts and regale friend or acquaintance with its contents. And often he would throw in events at Colts training camps that he witnessed. He especially liked to recount the pranks the players pulled on each other.

Jack wasn't happy with the name change at his alma mater to McDaniel College, saying they ought to call it Mickey D's and install golden arches at the football stadium. He was partly serious because he loved the school and his memories were always of Western Maryland. He met his beloved wife Nancy there.

Another member of The Coffee Club said his fondest memory of Jack were the little slips of paper Jack prepared for major sporting events, like the Triple Crown Races and the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Jack kept them in an envelope and would ask his fellow bettors to pick a "slip." It was fun to watch Jack scour that envelope for an errant slip if he didn't have all the "horses" with a bettor's name beside it.

And Jack kept the money in that same envelope until the event was over. The money was always right. He didn't keep a tip for himself. Of course, we're talking dollar bets here.

And then there were the friendly bets on Maryland teams with Bud Radcliffe. No matter who the Terps were playing, Jack took the opponent and Bud had the Terps.

Jack left this world so unexpectedly that the loss is still too close to really assess. His crooked smile and his hearty laugh will always provide fond memories.

But to those who benefited from his caring, those are the ones whose lives will be diminished the most. It hardly seems possible that he is gone.

Rest in Peace, John E. "Jack" Molesworth. You gave it your best and we all profited by your presence. You earned your rest.



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