Nearly 60 years after leading the Boston University hockey team to a second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, Jack Garrity was back at the NCAAs in 2009 as a special guest at BU’s pregame dinner in Washington, D.C., where the Terriers defeated Miami of Ohio in overtime for the title.
Jack Parker, who was then BU’s coach, introduced Mr. Garrity to the team, which rose in a standing ovation that brought tears to his eyes. Parker called him “a tremendous competitor and a class act,” and took note of Mr. Garrity’s 51 goals and 84 points in the 1949-50 season — records that still stand.
“Dad responded, ‘Yes, but you don’t get to play MIT twice a year,’ ” recalled Mr. Garrity’s son Jack Jr., of Washington, D.C., a former Harvard University hockey captain who accompanied him to the dinner. “After the win, he finally felt that he had achieved the championship that had eluded him twice as a player.”
Mr. Garrity, an inductee to the US Hockey, Massachusetts Hockey, and Boston University Athletic halls of fame, died of respiratory failure Aug. 31 at Epoch Senior Healthcare in Brookline. He was 89.
A former star athlete at Medford High School, 1948 US Olympic hockey team player, and college All-American, Mr. Garrity played on national championship amateur and then adult teams until age 78.
“He said he was hanging up the skates because the other players were catching him from behind,” said his son Jonathan of New Canaan, Conn., who along with his brothers Jack Jr. and Jeff, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., wore their father’s BU uniform number 17 while playing hockey at Harvard.
Mr. Garrity also taught generations of players at summer hockey camps and refereed high school and college games.
“What the great quarterback of our era, Harry Agganis, meant to BU football, that’s what Jack meant to BU hockey,” said Ike Bevins, who opposed Mr. Garrity as goaltender for Arlington High School before becoming his teammate at BU.
“I was very glad to be playing with him in college and not against him,” Bevins said. “He would give us the devil if he felt we should be working harder, but I had no better friend.”
In February 1943 at Boston Arena, Mr. Garrity exited the penalty box late in the third period and swooped in on Bevins to score the goal that tied the game, 1-1, and sent Medford High to its first Greater Boston League title. Called a “maker of magic” in the Globe account of that game, Mr. Garrity was very motivated because Arlington had scored its goal while he was serving the penalty.
He helped deliver a second consecutive championship with three goals and three assists in a 6-4 win over Melrose.
Len Ceglarski, who played at Boston College, said he would “look a defenseman right in the eye before going around him.”
Bill Cleary, a former Olympian and Harvard star, said he had “a sixth sense on the ice.”
Born in Woburn, John Paul Garrity dated Jean Lawler when they were seventh-graders in Medford. They married in 1945, the year after their high school graduation.
After serving with the Army Air Forces, Mr. Garrity completed his BU studies in three years. He played just two seasons of varsity hockey, because freshmen could not play varsity.
Mr. Garrity, who also holds BU records for most goals (7) and points (9) in a game, both against MIT, led the Terriers to the NCAA championship game in 1950 and the semis in 1951.
Featured in a 1951 Life magazine story about the growth of hockey in the Boston area, Mr. Garrity was raising a family while playing for BU. Jack Jr. was 4 when he would ride the ice-resurfacing machine and then watch his dad practice.
A 1951 BU graduate, Mr. Garrity became athletic director and the first football and hockey head coach at the new Archbishop Williams High School in Braintree. He coached football from 1954 to 1959, compiling a 42-8-1 record that included undefeated seasons in 1958 and ’59.
Mr. Garrity, an inductee to the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, hired Stonehill College graduate Armond Colombo as a football assistant in 1955.
“Jack gave me the foundation for success for my nearly 50 years in coaching, as well as the keys to drive the team bus,” recalled Colombo, who succeeded Mr. Garrity as head coach in 1960.
For many years, Mr. Garrity taught world history at Quincy High, where he was head football coach from 1960 to 1964. A longtime resident of Weymouth and Milton, he was also an assistant football and hockey coach at Milton Academy. He was head hockey coach at Medford High in the early 1950s.
Jonathan said his mother, who died in 2006, and his father “were always reaching out, whether hosting visitors from abroad or supporting a student who was having problems.”
The Garritys loved to travel and in 1972, the family packed for a year-long trip through Africa. They drove a Volks- wagen bus and camped out nearly every night. “We crossed the Sahara through sandstorms and traveled through the jungles of the Congo, where our car was poled across rivers on rafts made from logs lashed together by rope,” Jonathan said.
In addition to Jonathan, Jack Jr., and Jeff, Mr. Garrity leaves two other sons, Chris of Kent, Conn., and Steven of Winter Park, Fla.; a daughter, Jill, of Brookline; a sister, Betty Lou Houhoulis of Roanoke, Va.; and 11 grandchildren.
A celebration of Mr. Garrity’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 12 in Milton Academy Chapel.
“He knew how to motivate his players and teammates, when to be tough and when to put an arm around someone’s shoulder,” Jonathan said. “My father and mother felt it was important to be a positive influence in people’s lives.”