Longtime San Antonio football coach George Pasterchick, who became synonymous with St. Gerard High School during his 34-year tenure with the Royals, died early Friday at his home in Katy.
Pasterchick and his wife, Maxine, moved to Katy to be near their daughter after he was diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a rare blood disorder, about two years ago. He was 82.
"He was a fighter to the end," said Maxine Pasterchick, who was married to Pasterchick for 58 years. "He loved his family, he loved the players he coached and he loved St. Gerard."
Pasterchick had the longest tenure at one school among the city's football coaches when he retired at St. Gerard in 2006.
Maxine Pasterchick said her late husband was heartened by the outpouring of support he received from the St. Gerard community and people across the city after he became terminally ill.
"He was amazed by all the calls and cards he got," Maxine said. "He didn't think he had done anything unusual. He would say, 'I don't know what I did to deserve this.' Then I'd tell him, 'You loved them. That's what you did. It was heartwarming for me to know that so many people cared about him."
While Pasterchick was best known for his long run at St. Gerard, he also coached the San Antonio Toros during their heyday in the Continental Football League in the late 1960s, and other minor-league teams in the '70s and '80s.
Pasterchick was head football coach and athletic director for 32 of his 34 years at St. Gerard, which won the Texas Catholic Interscholastic League state championship under his tutelage in 1985.
Enrico shared bond with Pasterchick
"He was the glue that held St. Gerard together," said former Central Catholic head football coach Carlos Enrico, who faced Pasterchick's teams until St. Gerard dropped in classification because of its dwindling enrollment. "The year they won state, I remember he told me his players still weren't satisfied because they hadn't beaten Central.
"After he left St. Gerard, we talked once a week. He called me almost every day. He always talked football. When I was coaching, George was a good sounding board. I felt like I was talking to my grandfather. That's how much I respected him."
Enrico resigned as head coach at Central Catholic two years ago, but remained at the school as athletic director. Enrico and Pasterchick also coached against each other in the city's annual high school all-star game.
Enrico chuckled when he recounted a recent phone conversation he had with Pasterchick.
"He knows Central is building some new facilities, but one of the things he told me was, 'Don't ever tear the gym down. That's where I met Maxine.' I mean, he was serious about that."
Although Pasterchick had a losing record at St. Gerard -- he was 152-185-2 - his passion for coaching and his loyalty to the school earned him the respect and admiration of fans throughout San Antonio.
"He took responsibility for all the kids at St. Gerard, not just the athletes," said his daughter, Georgia Bartlett, an elementary school principal in Katy. "That's why they loved him. I remember being very envious when I would go to St. Gerard, because it was such a tight-knit community. Kids used to thank me for sharing my father with them."
Georgia, 57, graduated from Churchill in 1973.
"My father truly loved what he did," Georgia said. "If he had died on the football field, that would have been all right with him. But as much as he loved football, he loved the kids more. It was always about the kids, not the game.
"I'm so thankful that he had a chance to hear from so many people at the end. A lot of times, people don't get that opportunity. I'm glad that people didn't wait until he was gone to say what he meant to them."
Pasterchick returned to coaching after 'retiring'
Pasterchick was as loyal to his St. Gerard players as they were to him, keeping in touch with them long after they graduated.
"He missed coaching," Enrico said. "He still had that drive and that passion that I would see in young coaches."
Pasterchick didn't stay out of coaching long after his "retirement," returning to the sideline as a part-time assistant at TMI -- The Episcopal School of Texas -- in 2007. He was in his third season at TMI when he suffered a head injury in a sideline accident two weeks before his 79th birthday.
Pasterchick was injured when he fell and hit his head on the ground after getting run over by a player during a game at TMI. He returned to coach at TMI -- on the sideline, not the press box -- before the end of the 2009 season.
"I was really blessed," Pasterchick said in July 2010. "All the support and prayers of my friends and family helped me pull through. You go through something like this and it makes you appreciate life more. Every day is a gift."
Born and raised in Clifton, N.J., Pasterchick played football for Brooke Army Medical Center while serving as a combat medic in the Army from 1952-54. He continued his football career at Trinity and Texas Lutheran after his discharge, but left school to work for a finance company.
George and Maxine were married in Pleasanton in 1954. They moved from Greenville to San Antonio 10 years later and lived in the city until they moved to Katy. They also have a son, Steve, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A former coach at Bush Middle School, Steve is now coaching in Mississippi.