Jack Dalton Longtime coach and teacher at St. Benedict's Prep John "Jack" F. Dalton, of Cranford, N.J., passed away on Oct. 31, 2015. He was 89 years old. Visitation and Life Celebration will be held today, Wednesday, Nov. 4, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m., at Gray Memorial Funeral Home, 12 Springfield Ave., Cranford, N.J. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Michael's Church, 40 Alden St., Cranford, N.J., on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, at 9:30 a.m. Jack is survived by Joan, his wife of 62 years; his sister, Helen and her husband, Richard; daughters, Louise (Kenneth) Huebschman, Susan Marshall and Carol (Kevin) Farrell; and sons, John F. III, Michael (Lisa) and Timothy (Rosa). He is also survived by 16 grandchildren, one great- granddaughter, and many nieces and nephews. Residing in Cranford for 57 years, Jack enjoyed traveling the world with Joan and spending time with his family, friends and the St. Benedict's Prep community. In his spare time, he was an exceptional perennial gardener. Jack was a lifelong Mets fan and loved watching Giants football. He was a high school history teacher and an accomplished high school basketball coach. His teams won five state championships and won 523 games over 40 years. Jack was born on July 1, 1926, in Newark, N.J., to John and Alexandrine "Toots" (Jackson) Dalton. At age eight he was paralyzed for almost a year from a bout with meningitis. He spent most of second grade learning how to walk again. Jack attended Blessed Sacrament Elementary School in Newark, N.J., and was active in CYO sports. In 1940, Jack enrolled as a freshman at St. Benedict's Prep, where he would begin a 75-year relationship with the school. "St. Benedict's was my second love after Joan," he said. At St. Benedict, he starred in basketball and baseball under coaching legends Ernest "Prof" Blood and Joe Kasberger. He was named to the Star-Ledger All State teams in 1944 for baseball and basketball. After graduation, Jack enlisted in the United States Navy and served in the South Pacific as a petty officer, third class. In 1946, the Navy selected him to attend officers training at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He played on the varsity basketball team that year. After the war ended, in 1947 Jack entered St. John's University, where he played varsity basketball for four years under Joe Lapchick and Frank McGuire. Graduating in 1951, he turned down an offer to play for the Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) of the newly formed NBA basketball league. Jack accepted an offer to teach history and coach at St. James High School in Newark, N.J. That same year, he joined the Newark Iron Dukes, a semi-professional basketball team, where he played for several seasons. In his second season, he invited his new girlfriend, Joan, to a game. His teammates knew she came to see him and continuously fed him the ball. He set a league single-game scoring record that night, with 43 points. In 1953 Jack was offered and accepted a teaching and coaching position at St. Benedict's Prep. His teams in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's were among the strongest in the state, winning four state championships. He coached basketball at St. Benedict's until 1972, when the school closed. From 1973 to 1977, Jack taught and coached at Roselle Park High School. During this time, the monks of St. Benedict's Prep reopened the school with 100 students. Jack was very active there, leading their alumni association and assisting with fundraising. He was very energized by the school's recommitment to the young men of Newark. He was, after all, just like these students. Jack was still a kid from Newark. In 1977, Jack happily accepted an offer to return to teach and coach at St. Benedict's. Two years later, in 1980, his basketball team finished with a 22-4 record, losing in the New Jersey State Championship semi-final game. St. Benedict's basketball was back. In 1991, Jack retired from coaching. In 2006, at age 80, he retired from teaching. One of Jack's favorite quotes was, "Every day is a great day for teaching." Jack Dalton was a great husband, father and grandfather, mentor, coach, teacher and leader who impacted the lives of many. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Jack's name can be made to St. Benedict's Prep School, Newark, N.J., or to St. Michael's Parish, Cranford, N.J.
Published in The Star-Ledger from Nov. 2 to Nov. 4, 2015.