John Joseph Idzik
John Joseph Idzik passed away at the age of 85 resting peacefully with loved ones by his side at his home in Chadds Ford, PA on December 3, 2013. John was born on June 25, 1928 in Bridesburg, PA as the youngest of 9 children to Johanna and Jacenty Idzik. Among his 8 siblings John is survived by his sister Laura Novasack and he was preceded in death by brothers Jules and Matthew, and sisters Josephine, Stella, Stephany, Bernice, and Mary. John is also survived by his devoted wife of 60 years, Joyce Joann (Hoppensteadt) Idzik, who stood faithfully by his side through his final day, as well as his three children Dr. Cynthia Lynn Idzik-Starr (husband Paul), John Arthur Idzik (wife Carol) and Joyce Leigh Harms (husband Kevin), and five grandchildren Jessica Lauren Starr, Bryant James Idzik, Bradley John Idzik, Holly Ann Idzik and Michael Douglas Harms.
John was a gifted athlete starring in both baseball and football at Northeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia, PA. He was an All-Scholastic and All-Catholic Team halfback in football and leading hitting catcher for the school's City Championship baseball team. Upon graduation in 1947, he turned down a contract offer by the St. Louis Baseball Cardinals to accept a football scholarship to the University of Maryland. John was versatile for the Terrapins, playing defensive back, halfback and punt returner for nationally ranked bowl teams under legendary Coach Jim Tatum. His versatility was on display in big games as he was the second leading rusher in the 1948 Gator Bowl as a true freshman and he had a key interception return in Maryland's 1950 Gator Bowl victory over Missouri. He was among the team leaders in interceptions each of his four seasons and he still ranks among the school's top punt returners in career average per return. As a senior, John played in the Mahi Shrine North-South College All-Star Football Classic and was awarded the Terrapin Teke Trophy for his extraordinary contributions. Beyond his noteworthy collegiate football career, John was also a 3-year starter at third base for the Terrapins during one of the school's most victorious runs. All in all, John earned seven varsity letters at the University of Maryland.
Immediately following his collegiate playing days, John served his country as a member of the United States Marine Corps from 1951 through 1953, being named All-Marine in 1952 as a member of the East Coast Champion Paris Island Marines football team. After an honorable discharge from the Marines, John embarked on a lengthy and highly successful coaching career. He was lured to the University of Tennessee in 1954 for his expertise in the split-T offense by another legendary coach, General Robert Neyland. His first foray into professional football came as top offensive assistant for the CFL Ottawa Roughriders in 1955. He then returned to his alma-mater Maryland from 1956 through 1958 as an offensive assistant coach before becoming offensive coordinator for the University of Detroit Titans in 1959. In 1961, John became one of the youngest collegiate head coaches at age 33 for the Titans, where he remained until moving to Tulane University as offensive backfield coach in 1965. John began his 16-year NFL coaching career as offensive backfield coach for the Miami Dolphins from 1966 to 1969. He held a similar position with the Baltimore Colts from 1970 to 1972, where he participated in two consecutive AFC championship games and was a member of the 1970 World Champions of Super Bowl V. John returned to his hometown Philadelphia Eagles as offensive coordinator from 1973 to 1976 before moving to the New York Jets in the same capacity from 1977 to 1979. John's final stint in the NFL came as offensive backfield coach of the Baltimore Colts in 1980 and 1981. During his NFL career, John coached the 1969 AFL All-Stars, the AFC squad in the 1972 NFL Pro Bowl and the North squad in the 1974 Senior Bowl. John completed his coaching career as offensive backfield coach of the USFL Washington Federals in 1983 and head coach of the Aberdeen (Scotland) Oilers in the British American Football League in 1990 when he seized an opportunity to coach with his son.
Notwithstanding his remarkable accomplishments, John remained very humble every step of the way. While he was a very tough-minded competitor, he demonstrated a sincere compassion for his teammates and respect for his opponents. He had a knack for making the complicated seem simple and kept everything light with his wonderful sense of humor. He had an easy way of communicating and connecting very directly with people from a wide variety of backgrounds. He was an eternal optimist and calm voice of reason in challenging times. John lived a Christian life with a deep seeded love of his God, his country and his family. God blessed John with a complete life which in turn touched several generations of students, players, coaches, friends and family. John will always be remembered and sorely missed. His family loves him dearly.
Arrangements are being made by Chandler Funeral Home of Wilmington, Delaware by Director Joseph Yasik. Relatives and friends are invited to John's viewing at Concordia Lutheran Church, 3003 Silverside Road, Wilmington, Delaware at 12:00 noon on December 14, 2013 followed by a service. Burial will be immediately afterward at Lower Brandywine Cemetery, 101 Old Kennett Road, Wilmington, Delaware. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in John's memory to Concordia Lutheran Church in Wilmington, Delaware.
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Published in The News Journal from Dec. 8 to Dec. 9, 2013