When Tom Lamb took the helm of the football program at Natick High in 1975, his counterpart at Framingham South, Bob Jachowicz, already had the perspective of 24 seasons on the sideline, 17 as a head coach.
“When we played Thanksgiving Day in my early years, I’d walk up to him and tell Bob I couldn’t sleep the night before, and he’d just chuckle and tell me to relax, enjoy the game, and that my turkey would still taste good afterwards,’’ Lamb recalled of the man who would become his close friend.
“Bob had a great perspective on life; he was a wonderful teacher and coach who was loved and appreciated by his players and students, and he was a Renaissance man.’’
Jachowicz, a member of the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches and Lynn English High School halls of fame, died May 9 at age 84. A celebration of his life will be held Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Eagles club on Park Street in Framingham.
He arrived at Framingham High in 1951 as a recent graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, where he was a standout lineman, to serve as an assistant coach under Nick Morris, who had been Jachowicz’s coach at Lynn English.
Morris left for Pittsfield a few years later, but Jachowicz remained in Framingham — for good.
He taught several subjects at Framingham High and then Framingham South High after the school was divided in two, coached football until 1979, and was art director at South at the time of his retirement in 1991, the same year the town merged its two high schools back under one roof.
Lamb’s wife, Ann, former director of Framingham South’s alternative high school, said Jachowicz took great pride in the hand-carved wooden sign he crafted for its entrance, admiring it on his daily walks with his dog.
He was a raconteur and singer who traditionally led the chorus of “The Twelve Days of Christmas’’ at the Imperial China restaurant on Route 9; a landscape artist; a Town Meeting member; a president of the Framingham Teachers Association; and a devoted father of six who met his wife of 63 years, Phyllis (Rosicky), when they attended Lynn English.
“Dad faithfully returned to Lynn twice a year to reminisce with the Meadowlarks, a group of his old friends and teammates. And for decades he hosted a party at his home in Framingham the night before Thanksgiving that became a special reunion,’’ said his son, Crispin, a senior quarterback on Jachowicz’s 1967 South squad. “Friendships and mentoring others were more important to him than football scores.’’
Jachowicz’s final game as a head coach, Thanksgiving Day in 1979, was surreal: An upset win over host Natick and budding football star Doug Flutie.
Frank Martino, a junior defensive back on the ’79 squad, recalled that after the dramatic win, Jachowicz bought apples for the entire team.
“Above all, his players, like Bob, were great sportsmen and they were always ready for us,’’ said Lamb, who also played at Holy Cross and shared that kinship with Jachowicz.
“Macular degeneration in his later years made life harder for him’’ said Lamb, “but just a couple of months ago I walked into a Dunkin’ Donuts in Framingham and there was Bob — still holding court.’’