Frank Joseph Kush died peacefully surrounded by his children, grandchildren and brothers on June 22, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona. He joins his beloved wife Frances Marie Kush, who preceded him in death (November 2010).Read More
Frank is best known for his outstanding achievements in football, both as an All-American player at Michigan State University and as the head coach of Arizona State University. His work and dedication to ASU laid the foundation for both the University and Football programs to become what they are today. His family and friends will best remember him for his devotion as a family man and loyal friend.
Frank was born January 20, 1929 in Windber, Pennsylvania to Alexander and Mary (nee Melenda) Kush. He was one of fifteen children. Frank attended Windber High School where he started his football career. After graduating from Windber High School, Frank attended Michigan State University where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Physical Education and played football as a defensive lineman. During Frank's time as a Spartan, 1950 – 1952, he was a three-year letter winner and All-American. His teams went 26-1 during those three years and were undefeated in 1951 and 1952. The 1952 team was crowned National Champions his senior year. Frank played under Biggie Munn whom he respected, admired and always credited for being an exemplary mentor.
It was at Michigan State that Frank met his future wife, Frances Marie Theroux. After graduation he and Miss Theroux were married and together they moved to Fort Benning, Georgia. While there he served in the U.S. Army as a First Lieutenant and took on his first head coaching position with the Fort Benning football team. Upon completion of his two-year commitment to the U.S. Army, Dan Devine, Head Coach at Arizona State, offered Frank an assistant coaching position and he moved his family to Tempe, Arizona. It was 1955 and he often joked that as he drove into Tempe for the first time he wondered what the heck he had gotten himself into. Frank served as an Assistant Coach until 1958 when Dan Devine left and Frank assumed the role of Head Coach. He was the Head Coach at Arizona State from 1958 – 1979. Early in his career at ASU he earned a Master's degree in Education while coaching.
Over the next 22 years, Frank led the Arizona State Sun Devils to a 176-54-1 record, which included two Border Championships and seven Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championships. Two of his most outstanding seasons were 1970 and 1975 when both teams finished undefeated. The 1970 team beat North Carolina in the Peach Bowl, finishing 11-0 and ranking No. 6 nationally. The 1975 team beat Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, finishing 12-0 and ranking No. 2 by both the AP an the United Press International. The 1975 season earned Frank the honor of being named Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association and the Walter Camp Foundation.
Frank left ASU in 1979 and went on to coach the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1981 and the National Football League's Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts from 1982 – 1984. He left the Colts in 1985 in order to return to Arizona and coach the United States Football League's Arizona Outlaws. He gladly welcomed this opportunity as it allowed him to be near his children and grandchildren enabling him spend more quality time with his family. After coaching with the Outlaws, he went on to serve as Executive Administrator at the Arizona Boys Ranch for 10 years. There he continued to positively make a difference in the lives of many before returning to ASU in 2000 as an assistant to the Athletic Director.
During his career, Frank received many honors including induction into the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame (1967), College Football Hall of Fame (1995), National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame (1998), Michigan State University Athletics Hall of Fame (2000) and the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame (2015).
Frank learned the value of discipline and hard work at a young age. These fundamental principles helped him transition from his tough beginnings in a small coal mining town to a successful coaching career at the national level. It was these roots that led him to be a champion of youths. His biggest honor was the opportunity to work with the young men he coached. Coach Kush built discipline, accountability, responsibility and character into these young men that they would then use to direct themselves towards success both on and off the gridiron. Working with the young men at Arizona Boys Ranch was of great importance to him because he knew they could succeed if they had the proper guidance in developing the skills necessary for a successful life. Frank also thoroughly enjoyed working with adolescents at the many football clinics he hosted.
In spite of a successful, busy and hectic career, Frank was a devoted family man and loyal friend, always setting aside time to spend with those that meant so much to him. Frank and his wife Fran had three sons, Daniel, David and Damian; two granddaughters, Jenna and Jordyn and two grandsons, Dane and Blake. When his boys were young he spent time helping them develop their athletic skills. His family enjoyed regular fishing trips to Roosevelt Lake and the White Mountains. They also took regular ski trips to Sunrise, Purgatory and the Snowbowl. Many of these trips often included members from his coaching staff and their families as well as many of his closest friends. As his sons grew and began their own lives, he was the first to volunteer to help with tree trimming and yard maintenance at their houses. When his granddaughters arrived he took every opportunity possible to spend time with them as he loved them very much. He frequently took them to the local parks, the Phoenix Zoo and mountain climbing at Papago Park where they nicknamed the hole in the rock as "Pete's Dragon Cave." He even went to his granddaughters' Home Economics classes in Jr. High and demonstrated how to make strawberry rhubarb pie – a treat he made quite well. Frank loved to go on fishing trips to Alaska, Wyoming and Mexico with his brothers and close friends. Often times, he included his granddaughters on these trips and made an annual outing of visiting Yellowstone National park staying at Flagg Ranch and fishing the surrounding lakes. He continued to ski with family until he was 82.
Frank welcomed his two grandsons, Dane (age 4) and Blake (age 2) just recently. His age and health prevented him from enjoying fishing and skiing activities with them but he thoroughly enjoyed regular visits from them at home and had time permitted, it is guaranteed he would have been playing ball, fishing and skiing with them as soon as he had the opportunity.
Frank loved music with classical and polka music ranking as his favorites. He loved history and was avid reader of the Civil War, WWII and Native American literature. He loved Kachina dolls and collected them for many years.
Frank is survived by his sons, Daniel J. Kush (Linda), Tempe, Arizona; David J. Kush (Joanna), Phoenix, Arizona, Damian J. Kush, Tempe Arizona; his grandchildren, Jenna Kush, Jordyn Kush, Dane Kush and Blake Kush; his brothers, Thomas Kush, Redwood City, California, Michael Kush (Pauline), Deltona, Florida, Stanley Kush, Sun City, Arizona, Joseph Kush, (Mary Lou), Scottsdale, Arizona, Stephen Kush (Joanna), Sun City Arizona; and his sister, Frances Kush, Charleston, West Virginia. He is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Frances Marie (nee Theroux) Kush; his parents, Alexander and Mary (nee Melenda) Kush; his brothers, August Kush, George Kush, Alex Kush and Anthony Kush; his sisters, Mary (nee Kush) Styduhar, Ann (nee Kush) Cartica, Sophie (nee Kush) Verostick and Evelyn (nee Kush) Troupe.
Services, being handled by Tempe Mortuary, are as follows:
Public Visitation will be Wednesday, July 5, 2017 from 5 PM to 9 PM at the All Saints Newman Catholic Center, 230 E. University Drive, Tempe, Arizona 85281.
Sun Devil Athletics and the ASU Alumni Association has plans to honor Coach Kush at Camp Tontozona and dedicate a 2017 home game to him and his legacy. Those details will be announced at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Frank Kush Football Endowment, payable to ASU Foundation, PO Box 2260, Tempe, AZ 85280,the link to make a gift online isasufoundation.org/kushor The Frank Kush Youth Foundation c/o Landings Credit Union, 2800 South Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85282.