Remembering Jack "Coach" Phelan
(Cloe Poisson / Hartford Courant)
Our hearts are heavy with the sudden passing of Jack Phelan, our beloved Farmington High School (FHS) Athletic Director. Jack served the Farmington community for seventeen years with excellence and unwavering dedication. He served in more than just the role of FHS Athletic Director as an individual that everyone could count on. Jack was a deeply caring person who understood what was most important in life--family. Jack was in many ways, the head of the FHS family, always there for each one of us. He was quick to write an encouraging note, extend sincere praise and be present for others in their best as well as their most difficult moments. In every way, he modeled to us how to take care of one another as a mentor, coach and dear friend.
We will miss Jack deeply. We will always remember his pride in being part of the Farmington schools and the way his face would light up when speaking about FHS athletes, students, coaches, faculty and staff. Jack would never forget anyone’s name and could tell you details about each person that was fortunate enough to know him. That is because he took time to deeply know each one of us. He was quick to offer his help in any situation and fiercely proud of FHS athletics as well as the many athletes he coached throughout his distinguished career as an accomplished athlete, winning coach and superb Athletic Director. Last summer, Jack was inducted into the St. Francis University Hall of Fame. As a humble leader, Jack would not have acknowledged this or the many other accolades he received at the professional, collegiate, and high school level. Jack was not just a Hall of Fame athlete; every endeavor he took on was approached with an unwavering work ethic, passion, enthusiasm, and impeccable integrity. Jack was a gift to the Farmington school district and his legacy will live on within the hearts of thousands of students, faculty, staff, families and all members of the Farmington community.
There are no words to adequately express the impact of Jack's sudden passing. His leadership, caring approach and friendship contributed to a positive and connected community at FHS as well as a stellar athletic program. Jack’s life was all about relationships and he will be deeply missed by each member of the Farmington school district, the Farmington community, and most especially, his very close family. Jack's family was the center of his life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Patti, his loving wife, three adoring sons and daughters-in-law, extended family and the apple of his eye, his grandchildren.
Counselors will be available in person and virtually to support our students, faculty and staff. Please call the FHS office at (860) 673-2514 between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to schedule an appointment. Additionally, we have included information below for parents about how to speak to your child about the death of an individual you are closely connected to. We are a very close school district and community and the loss of one of our beloved faculty members has a deep impact on every one of us. Please know this is an extremely difficult time for us. Jack was truly beloved by students, faculty, staff and administration. We all need time to process his passing. In the most difficult times, the Farmington school district community comes together to support one another. This is a time in which we all need to support our students and one another as Jack’s sudden passing impacts each one of us.
Please keep the Phelan family in your thoughts and prayers at this time of unimaginable loss and profound sadness.
Strategies for Helping Your Child Deal With a Loss
- Help your child realize that a loss has taken place.
- Allow and encourage your child to feel the feelings, identify, and normalize them.
- Help name the feelings your child is having regarding the loss.
- Sadness and tears
- Guilt and blame
- Loss of control
- Being overwhelmed
- Encourage dialogue with other family members, but model calmness.
- Encourage discussion of positive memories of the person lost.
- Respect fears and doubts.
- Incorporate use of family spiritual belief system to aid in coping.
- Everyone experiences grief differently. Be prepared to show verbal, non-verbal, physical support for your child depending on their individual needs.
- Encourage children to talk and ask questions.
- Let your child know that nothing he/she did or thought had anything to do with the death.
- Give your child plenty of reassurance. The fear of abandonment can be very strong.
- Accept some transitory behavior - changing in sleeping, eating, and relationships with others.
- Ask your child to creatively express memories and feelings through poems, drawings, journal entries, and/or sharing memories verbally.
- Establish and/or maintain routines and schedules as much as possible.
Some online resources may be helpful:
- Kids Health - Helping Your Child Deal With Death
- National Association of School Psychologists - Addressing Grief
- How to Talk to Adolescents About Death