John M. Plevyak, 81, teacher, coach at Mount St. Joseph High

May 21, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

John Matthew Plevyak, a teacher, coach and athletic director who served Mount St. Joseph High School for a half-century, died Thursday of pneumonia at St. Agnes HealthCare. He was one day short of his 82nd birthday and lived in Catonsville.

He was athletic director at Mount St. Joseph from 1960 to 1983. He also taught business math, accounting and typing.

He coached varsity soccer and baseball from 1944 to 1960. He also coached junior varsity soccer and basketball during that period.

In those years he won 18 Maryland Scholastic Association championships, including eight consecutive soccer championships from 1944 to 1951, and 12 private school championships.

"No one better exemplified the spirit of the school than John," said Barry Fitzpatrick, Mount St. Joseph's principal. "He was the kindest, gentlest man I've known -- a strongly gentle presence. A superb athletic director and teacher and coach."

Several of his students went on to professional sports careers, including Tom Phoebus, an Orioles pitcher who threw a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox on April 27, 1968.

In 1984, Mr. Plevyak was the first athletic director inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame. He was a founder of the Catholic League, a high school basketball conference in Baltimore.

In 1991, he received an honorary doctorate from Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg. Also that year, he was named secondary school Catholic educator of the year by the National Association of Catholic Teachers.

In 1947, he founded Camp St. Joseph, a summer day camp that remains in operation.

Born in Carbondale, Pa., he was a 1940 graduate of Bloomsburg State College in Bloomsburg, Pa.

He moved to Baltimore in 1941 and remained for 50 years at the Irvington school. He retired in 1991 and returned to his old office several times a week to do clerical work and substitute teaching.

The school will close in his honor Tuesday.

In 1945, he married Phyllis Toole, who survives him.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at noon Tuesday at St. Joseph Monastery, 251 S. Morley St.

He is also survived by a son, John Patrick Plevyak of Finksburg; four daughters, Donna Atkinson of Catonsville, Mary Rebecca Malarkey of Catonsville, Pamela Ann Dickerson of Elkridge and Kathryn Montemorra of Olney; three brothers, Edward Plevyak of Perry Hall, Paul Plevyak of Towson and Stanley Plevyak of Pottstown, Pa.; seven sisters, Mary Madges of Cincinnati, Anne Gadbow of Utica, N.Y., Helen Derrick of Simpson, Pa., Regina Hoffman of Silver Spring, Sophie Roman of Philadelphia, Catherine Fisch of Bakersfield, Calif., and Vera Madden of Deposit, N.Y.; and 13 grandchildren.

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