Jack M. Cloud dies at age 85

Longtime Naval Academy coach and educator had earlier played for the National Football League

June 25, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Jack Martin Cloud, whose career as a coach and educator at the Naval Academy spanned more than 30 years and who later became a Navy football radio broadcaster, died June 19 of kidney failure in the hospice unit at Spa Creek Center in Annapolis. He was 85.

Mr. Cloud, who was part Cherokee Indian, was born in Britton, Okla., and moved in 1935 to Norfolk, Va. He was an outstanding football player while a student at Maury High School in Norfolk.

After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces and served as a waist gunner aboard B-17 Flying Fortresses in Europe with the 429th Bombardment Squadron.

On his 10th mission, Mr. Cloud's plane was shot down over Italy, forcing him and his fellow crew members to bail out. They were able to elude capture and made it safely back to Allied lines.

Mr. Cloud, who attained the rank of staff sergeant, was discharged in 1946; his decorations included the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

After the war, he enrolled at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., where as an outstanding fullback, he set a school record during the 1947 season by scoring 102 points — including five touchdowns in a single game.

Dubbed the "Flying Cloud," he was first named an All-American in 1947 as a sophomore, and then again during his junior and senior years.

In 1948, he appeared on the cover of Street and Smith's Pictorial Football Yearbook. Sportswriter Jack Horner described Mr. Cloud as "215 pounds of dynamite" and added that "Durable is his middle name."

Mr. Cloud's 45 college career touchdowns still remain an All-Southern Conference record, and in 1990 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Six years earlier, he had been inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

"Jack Cloud might be the closest thing I've seen to Jim Thorpe," New York Times sportswriter Grantland Rice wrote at the time. "No fancy Dan, he is a throwback to the old style of head down and plow type who churns out yardage in chunks."

When Mr. Cloud was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in a ceremony held in New York's Waldorf-Astoria, The Evening Sun reported that George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, "ran clear across the room" to congratulate him.

"You were my hero when I was a kid," he told Mr. Cloud.

Mr. Cloud, who was 5 foot 10 and weighed 220 pounds, was the Green Bay Packers' sixth-round pick in the 1950 National Football League draft.

He played for the Packers in 1950 and 1951 and the Washington Redskins in 1952 and 1953, before a knee injury brought his NFL career to a close.

"He was a chunky guy and had been a darn good running back," said Bill Tanton, retired Evening Sun sports editor. "He was a helluva nice guy. No doubt about it, he was legit and had been in football all of his life."

After leaving the NFL, he was an assistant coach at William & Mary for a year before being named head football coach and athletic director at the Norfolk Naval Station in 1955.

Four years later, he arrived at Annapolis, where he spent the next 32 years as an associate professor of physical education and assistant to the director of athletics.

He also had been plebe football coach, lightweight coach and assistant varsity football coach.

"It seemed as though Jack had been at Navy forever and was always part of the scene. I really liked him," Mr. Tanton said.

Mr. Cloud had been a next-door neighbor in Annapolis to Wayne Hardin, who coached varsity football at Navy from 1959 to 1964.

"You can't say enough good things about Jack Cloud. He was a real trouper," Mr. Hardin said Friday from his Fort Washington, Pa., home.

"Jack was a great athlete and a hard-nosed guy who did a wonderful job as a coach. He freely passed on his knowledge and never touched a kid that he didn't try to help," Mr. Hardin said.

"He was also a master at keeping kids loose. They loved it when he'd tell them if a 'game gets tough, quit,' " Mr. Hardin said with a laugh. "There wasn't anything Jack wouldn't do for his kids."

From 1984 to 1991, Mr. Cloud had a second career as pregame and postgame football commentator on WNAV-AM.

"Jack was a person you couldn't help but like. He was such an upbeat guy and a great broadcast partner," said Ted Patterson, veteran sports broadcaster and author, who had shared duties with Mr. Cloud.

"He was a Navy guy, a lifer all the way," said Mr. Patterson, who was later sports director at WCBM. "He didn't pretend to be the greatest analyst of the game. He just commented on the plays."

Mr. Cloud retired from the Naval Academy in 1990.

He had been an active member and a former president of the Touchdown Club of Annapolis, and when the club presented him its Jim and Rae Morgan Award in 2007 for his 53 years of service to the organization, those attending the ceremony were exposed to his self-deprecating sense of humor.

He told those gathered that "I was once called Flying Cloud, now I'm more like Rolling Cloud," reported The Capital, an Annapolis newspaper.

Mr. Cloud's hobbies included fishing, crabbing and building custom-made fishing rods. He was also an accomplished needleworker, specializing in tatting and macramé.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Mariners Church, 1592 Whitehall Road, Annapolis.

Surviving are his wife of 52 years, the former Charlotte Barwick; a son, Jack M. Cloud Jr. of Severna Park; two daughters, Patricia C. Hasenei of Annapolis and Wendy Siedlecki of Chesapeake, Va.; a brother, Charles Cloud of Norfolk; nine grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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