MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jack Zahr came to St. Thomas Academy out of college 36 years ago and ascended to the job of athletic director.
Eleven days ago, a massive stroke left the 58-year-old in hospice care.
The school’s leader died on Tuesday night, leaving an institution in shock, and a legacy not soon forgotten.
They strive for and attain athletic excellence at St. Thomas Academy.
Credit much of that to Zahr.
“Lot of the old faculty knew him for a long time,” basketball coach and principal Mike Sjoberg said. “It’s been a difficult time for us.”
His office is intact with pictures of his two daughters — both in college — on his wall. He also leaves behind a wife.
His impact is everywhere, not only as a boss, but as a friend.
“He wanted you to be successful and share in your successes,” football coach Dave Ziebarth said. “We walked that journey of life together. We’ve had some great times and some sad times.”
He was there to support and watch the hockey team win state titles — part administrator, part fan.
“He was really proud — he always had a big smile on his face when he talked about it,” hockey coach Greg Vannelli said.
He wore his St. Thomas Academy passion on his sleeve. This was his home. These were his people.
“He was as proud of this institution as anybody could be,” Sjoberg said. “He loved the Cadets. He advocated for our school at every turn.”
That’s part of what they are remembering — a man who made his impact in so many different ways.
“He really was a gentle and kind person, and that’s rare in this business,” Ziebarth said. “He cared about all our students and his coaches.”
The following are memorial service times:
The wake: Thursday, Sept. 12, 4-8 p.m. (Prayer service: 7 p.m.)
Vincent J. Flynn Hall at Saint Thomas Academy
949 Mendota Heights Road
Mendota Heights, Minn.,
The funeral Mass: Friday, Sept. 13, 11 a.m.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church
13900 Biscayne Ave. W.
Lunch will be held at Saint Thomas Academy following the funeral mass. No classes will be held on Friday in honor of Zahr.