Coach Blanke Dead at 87
Our beloved Coach Jules Blanke passed during the morning of Tuesday, February 17th, from a sudden heart attack. Those of us that had the incredibly good fortune to have attended McKinley were blessed with the truly magnificent experience of knowing this incredible human being. A wonderful man that touched the lives of so many Goldbugs was a surrogate father to many of us long after our days at McKinley. A true legend in so many ways, there will never be another Coach.

Visitation and Funeral...
Visitation for Coach Blanke was at Kutis - Affton on Thursday, February 19th. Kutis officials estimated nearly 1000 people paid their respects to Coach that evening.

Funeral services were held on Friday, February 20th at Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, where Coach and Martha attended every Sunday. Click here to read John Glore's moving eulogy from the service.

Embodiment of the Goldbug Spirit...
Coach Blanke was not only the most loved person that ever attended McKinley, he was also one of the most loving of persons that ever blessed our school. He would rarely settle for shaking your hand, but insisted on giving you a hug and to tell you he loved you.

He was much more than a coach to everyone that knew him. Coach was mentor, counselor, advisor, coach, teacher -- and most of all -- friend. In a recent interview, he was asked, “What do you want people to say about you after you’re gone?” He laughed “Oh - it doesn’t make that much difference, I think. I’d like to get up and tell them - everybody from McKinley - how nice they are to me. They all treat me great. That’s about all.” He was great to and for us. He will be greatly missed.

A Tribute by Spiro Athanas '60...
Jules Blanke, the man who earned the right to be called “Mr. McKinley High School” through many years of service to our school and its students died Tuesday, February 17, 2004. I know of few men who had a more profound and positive impact on the lives of so many young people than Coach Blanke. Through the force of his personality and the strength of his character he made just about everyone he coached, taught and knew feel better about themselves and what they could accomplish in this life.

The last time I saw coach Blanke was in September, 2003 at my 42nd Class Reunion. I spoke to him briefly three times during the course of the evening. He was happily afflicted with whatever you call the opposite of Alzheimer’s disease. I swear the man’s memory actually improved with age. We spoke of old times, of course, games won and lost, my teammates and his coaching colleagues. But most memorably, at the end of each of our encounters he hugged me before we went our separate ways. The last time, in a corridor as we were leaving, he hugged me and kissed me on the forehead. It was precisely that kind of sympathetic humanity that made Jules Blanke loved and respected by all who were privileged to have known him.

A Tribute by John Glore '61...
Coach Blanke was known and loved by everyone who attended McKinley during those 32 years. When you think of St. Louis, you think of the Cardinals; when you think of the Cardinals, you think of Jack Buck and Stan Musial; well when you think of McKinley, you think of Coach Blanke.

He reflected the values and the strong work ethic of the working class community on the near south side of St. Louis. McKinley did not have a gym, a football field, or a baseball diamond. His football teams practiced on a vacant lot with no grass and too small to practice punts and kickoffs. The physical education classes had to run the 50 yard dash around a curve. His baseball teams walked a mile to Lemp Park for practice. Mr. Blanke never complained about lack of facilities. The 1960 team, which was undefeated, once practiced in the middle of the street for a Thanksgiving day game when rain made the practice field a real quagmire.

He developed his players into fine young men. His McKinley football teams won league titles in '46, '52, '56, '58, '59, '60, and '77. His 1977 team did not allow a single touchdown to be scored against them through the air. That same team averaged 23 points per game on offense. His 1960 team allowed only 45 points to be scored against them the entire season, and had an offense that did not punt the entire season.

When Coach Blanke wasn't coaching or teaching, he was caring for an injured athlete, mending broken equipment, working on the practice field, or making a home visit. He truly cared about his players. If you wore the black and gold of McKinley, and played for Coach Blanke, you were always going to be one of his kids. He told his teams, "When you win, you win for McKinley High School." His teams were a reflection of him: hard work and always demonstrating good sportsmanship. His teams won with dignity and lost with honor. He cried at special events and believed that the team was a family long before Dick Vermeil entered the coaching profession. He took us all and made us a collective one.

I am proud to say that I attended McKinley High School and played for Coach Blanke. He has been a role model and inspiration in my life. He inspired players, cheerleaders, all students, and other faculty members. I know that everyone from McKinley would echo these thoughts. We loved him and will miss him, but he will always be with us, because he really is a part of us.

For additional Goldbug tributes written about our beloved Coach, please click on the photo of June McFarland Rideout '59 and Coach, taken at the October luncheon.