John Moynagh

Obituary of John E. Moynagh

John Moynagh, age 84 of Remer, MN succumbed to multiple years of congestive heart failure on March 31st, 2022. He was preceded in death by his parents, Roland and Genevieve, and his sister Patricia. He is survived by his other sister, Mary; by two children, Kimberly and James; three grandchildren, Stephanie, Jacob, and Matthew; two great grandchildren, Beau and Tyson; plus nephews, nieces, extended family, and friends. Visitation 4:00 – 8:00pm Tuesday April 12th at the Willwerscheid Funeral Home, 1167 Grand Ave., St. Paul and also 1 hour prior to mass on Wednesday (10:00 – 11:00am). Mass of Christian Burial 11:00am Wednesday April 13th at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 835 2nd Ave. NW, New Brighton 55112. (651) 633-8333. Interment in Resurrection Cemetery, Mendota Heights. John, called "Jack" or "Coach", grew up in St. Paul, MN, graduating high school from St. Thomas Academy and also graduating from St. Thomas College. He played football, baseball, and basketball growing up, and continued his play in football at St. Thomas College. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree and then later went on to earn his Master's degree in Education. The man was a hard worker. While a youth, he first began earning money as a golf caddy eventually working up to Caddy Master at Town and Country Golf Club. He had other odd jobs as a young man such as that of a butcher and washing locomotive engines in the old roundhouse. His ultimate career path became that of teacher and coach, with his first job at Swanville High School, MN. After two years there, he moved his young family back to the cities, White Bear Lake and then New Brighton, where he furthered his career in the St. Paul school system. He spent time at Johnson, Murray, and Como Park High Schools where he taught history and coached football, basketball, and baseball. He also spent a few years coaching the Marshall High School baseball team. Many teachers enjoy their summers off, but not Jack, he taught summer school most years. Even when he did eventually retire, he still took up substitute teaching jobs for a few years. Hobbies he enjoyed over the years included fishing, golfing, playing fast-pitch softball, playing cards, playing games, playing B-I-N-G-O, collecting coins, studying WWII history, watching the NFL on TV, and attending high school football games live. Not many individuals can claim this anymore, but the two things Jack did not do were computers and cell phones. Aside from the first few, Jack's retirement years were spent living at the family cabin, built in the 1970s, on Lake Washburn, MN. He loved the fishing, the peace, and the community found there. He routinely visited the various restaurants in the area for the fine food, bingo, and meat raffles. But more than anything, he liked meeting and socializing with all the people. "A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life." -John Wooden My friend Jack. I'm Gerry Brown, a long-time friend of Jack's. Even though we are four years apart in age we grew up together and attended St. Thomas Academy at the same time – he was a senior when I was a freshman. We worked together at the St. Paul playgrounds and played on city baseball, softball and basketball teams as we grew older. He and Bill Poferl introduced me to fishing and hunting, and I helped him rough out and finish his lake home. We even chased the same girls at playgrounds and in bars, although Jack never took a drink of alcohol in all the years I knew him. Everybody has "runnin' buddies" that they grow up with and hang out with. Ours were Jack, Bill Poferl, Pete Brandt and me. Pof and Pete were his neighbors in the St. Luke's area; I entered later when Jack ran Hillcrest Playground with Phil Ravitzky. All those guys are gone now, except me. Every summer we raced around the Highland Park neighborhood in cars, stopped at the drive-in on the corner of Cretin and Ford Parkway to see our favorite carhops, and raced north every weekend after work to carouse on Friday night and then get up before the sun on Saturday morning because that's when the Lake Washburn walleyes bit the best! Then we raced back to play a Sunday afternoon City League baseball game, arriving at 12:45 for a 1:00 baseball game. Pretty crazy behavior, but not uncommon for us. Jack's father, Rollie Moynagh, was a coaching icon in the St. Paul schools at the old Marshall High so Jack was predestined to be a coach. We coached against each other when I was 18 and he was 22 in the Highland Groveland kids football league, and we continued that coaching fellowship into high school when we were both volunteer assistant coaches at St. Thomas Academy for coach Skip McMahon and then into head coaching in the St. Paul Conference when Jack was the head coach at Como Park and me at St. Thomas Academy. Jack was a hard-nosed throwback coach, in the image of his father, Rollie. He was the most competitive person I knew. Friendship made no difference to him, only beating you into submission did. He was always scheming, and had something new to try on you each time you played his team. His teams were usually undermanned, but he was a shrewd judge of talent and a terrific motivator so his kids fiercely played their butts off in each game. I've always believed that a team carries its coach's personality onto the field, and Jack should have been proud and happy about his teams' performances in that respect. Jack introduced me to grouse hunting by giving me his shotgun and telling me to "hold it about six inches in front of your shoulder when firing" and when I did that the recoil knocked me on my butt, my shoulder was sore for a week, and he and Pof laughed their butts off! It was impossible to get Jack off the lake. Fishing with him was an ordeal not unlike the Bataan Death March. He never quit. Pof was a smoker who would sometimes forget his matches, and Pof would almost have a nervous breakdown because Jack would not go in to get the matches once we were out on the lake and Pof pouted all day without his smokes. I witnessed Jack at his combative best. The four of us – me, Pete, Pof and Jack were standing in an alley behind a bar when Jack and Pof got into a minor disagreement. They began wrestling and Jack picked up Pof, who was 6-4, 240 pounds at the time, and deposited him into a trash can nearby. Jack was 160 pounds soaking wet, but was a little excited. You didn’t mess with Jack when he lost his temper. He once hurled my personal baseball bat that I let him use – one that I had babyed and treated with kid gloves for many years – into the top row of the bleachers during a summer baseball game at old Midway Stadium. The bat broke on the cement and the umpire threw Jack out of the game, but Jack was unrepentant. He didn’t agree with the umpire’s strike three call. Everyone has personal demons. Jack had his. His impetuous temper betrayed him many times. He was hooked on gambling later in life and it bankrupted him and affected his life and some of his relationships.. He knew himself, and he worked on his problems. He was stubborn, rigid, gruff and hard-headed, but he had a heart of gold, as anyone who knew him intimately would attest to. He was a loving and proud father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was the most loyal of friends. He genuinely cared about his friends and family and constantly demonstrated it. He was basically a loving individual. I’ll miss his monthly calls, even though he was stone deaf at the end and didn’t hear a thing I was saying to him. He was a good friend to many people and we have lost a unique, old-fashioned, rugged individual. Sleep well my friend. We will miss you desperately. Gerry Brown Visitation 4:00 - 8:00pm Tuesday April 12th at the Willwerscheid Funeral Home, 1167 Grand Ave., St. Paul and also 1 hour prior to mass on Wednesday (10:00 - 11:00am). Mass of Christian Burial 11:00am Wednesday April 13th at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 835 2nd Ave. NW, New Brighton 55112. (651) 633-8333.
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