John C. Altersitz

(Nov 5, 1950 to Dec 19, 2008)

rnCactus High School in Glendale, Ariz. did not have a soccer program before Jack Altersitz arrived, and what he leaves behind today stands in legacy of his knowledge, devotion and persistence. When he retired after more than 20 years of coaching, Jack had a winning percentage of .800 and many players had gone on to play collegiate level soccer. In fact, two of his six Arizona state soccer championships were won against teams coached by his former players. As he used to say, “I taught them everything they know, just not everything I know.” He was National Region 8 Coach of the Year twice, inducted into the Arizona Coaches Hall of Fame and recognized here at home with his induction into the West Deptford High School Hall of Fame.rn rnOutside of soccer, Jack was a man ever on the move, always setting and achieving lofty goals. In his life, he traveled to all 50 states and saw all seven continents. He ran with the bulls in Pamplona, coached a soccer team in Australia, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, just 2 years ago and went to Antarctica this past year.rnrnIt is important to note that, for all of his accomplishments, nothing trumped what Jack knew to be most important: family. As the middle child of five siblings, he returned to Ocean City, NJ, every summer for his son, Jacob, to be close to his aunts, uncles and cousins. He kept relationships strong even when others in the family did not. He was a surrogate father to his nieces and nephews. He took his son, nieces and nephew on cross-country trips every summer for many years and he recently hiked the Grand Canyon with another nephew. When his sister, Lucy, became ill, he put his life on hold to care for her. For many years, his Uncle Richard could depend on Jack to help open and maintain his 150-year-old cabin in the woods. rnrnJack is survived by his son, a sister, Jean Taylor, and two brothers, Larry and Russell. He is also survived by his friend and companion, Joanna Forest. He is predeceased by his sister, Lucy Oldt-Rapp.rnCome celebrate 58 adventuresome years on Sunday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Daley Life Celebration Studio in Swedesboro, with a private family service to follow. Log on and tell us a great story about Jack at In lieu of flowers, the family requests blood donations in Jack’s name.rn

48 thoughts on “John C. Altersitz

  1. Bob Jaep

    He was my first “best friend” in elementary school. We spent countless days in his backyard playing half ball and wiffle ball and whatever else we could hit onto the roof of his house. And when we went inside there was always ample entertainment provided with Jack and his brothers and sisters. I wish someone could have been there to film the revelry. The house was also our meeting point when we played hooky in junior high. Thanks to Jack’s sister Jeannie for providing the “parental” excuse notes. Good times at the shore followed, and then we lost touch. But in the last couple years and especially the last 2 months , we would get together when Jack hit town. There is something very special about rekindling an old friendship. I’m so thankful for that time. He was truly one of a kind and I will miss him. My heartfelt condolence goes out to Jacob, Jean, Larry, Russell and Joanna and to all those who knew him well. And thank you Jack, for the memories.

  2. Chelsea Sayles

    Jack was a great teacher and person. He would remind me that I could do anything with my life despite how I grew up! He will truly be missed by all…rnRest in Peace and enjoy your new adventure!

  3. Jeremy Witt

    I had the priviledge of being on the team that Jack took to Australia. It was a special memory that I and other players that went will have forever. We had the best times while we were there and Jack wanted us to enjoy every moment we had there even if it meant breaking a couple of rules. He was a great coach and loved to have fun with us on and off the field. I never played for him at Cactus but whenever I ran into him he always remembered my name and my family which was awesome. I did get to meet his neice and nephews on our trip also and you could just tell that his family was very important to him. I wish his family a great celebration of his life and the AZ soccer community will miss Jack.

  4. Wally Holdstein

    Jack was my teen link in high school between “the bad boys at the Barn” and the “good boys at the pool”. He mixed well with everyone, and continued that rare quality throughout his life. He was comfortable with himself in any scenario … always felt a stranger was just a friend he hadn’t yet met! His quick wit, “Just Do It” attitude, and commitment to friends will be sorely missed. From the first time I ventured into the “Altersitz Safe House” as a kid, I knew I had a friend for life. My sincere condolences to Larry, Jeannie, Russell, Joanna and Jacob … Jack will always occupy a small corner of all of our hearts!

  5. Anonymous

    More a friend to my brothers and an acquaintance to me by default, in our infrequent meetings, Jack always gave me good, sound advice. And when I was first traveling and found myself homesick and alone in a country where few people spoke my language, I required to make my first international call and phoned Jack ? I have no idea what time it was in Arizona and the call may have even been collect! ? But he answered and he gave me all the time, the encouragement and the strength I needed to confidently continue my journey. Rest in peace, Jack Altersitz. My condolences to your friends and family and all who were privileged to know you.

  6. Amy Barraco

    Mr. Altersitz was my psychology teacher & just a really cool person. He was very inspriational. I chose him to play the “father” role & walk me down the isle in my Marriage & Family Living class when I got married in school…he did a great job & I will always remember him. My condolensces to to all his family & friends!

  7. Connie Casement

    My thoughts are with your family and friends..this should be quite the celebration of an extraordinary life of an extraordinary man..Rest in Peace dear Jack, you were a good friend to so many of us, and will leave a big hole in our hearts.

  8. Lee Ann Esparza

    Many years ago I met you at rawhide travel when I used to make your travel arrangements, I told you my son was special you told me yeah yeah ok. When he finally reached the varsity level you found out he was a special goalie as an article in the republic, you said he was like the cat in the box aginst penalty kicks, it always amazed me how quick his hands were. I hope you remember you have touched so many peoples lives and made memories for them forever……Thanks LeeAnn

  9. Rick Belanger

    The Lord above must have needed to improve the soccer program to take you home at such an early age. Jack gave me my first opportunity as a Highschool soccer coach. Jack also volunteered many hours with Arizona Special Olympics where I first met him. A good man, a good friend. My sincere condolences to all family and friends who have been touched by this man. You will be missed.

  10. Lyn Whaley

    “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” rnHenry David ThoreaurnrnThank you, Jack, for helping us all envision and live our dreams through your example.rnrnLynrn

  11. John Reshetar

    Although I did not know much about Jack’s life since we graduated, talking to him at the reunion and learning about the life he has had sadly confirms that we have lost a truly fine man. I will remember him for his smile and sense of humor during our years at West Deptford.

  12. Jim Willaims

    Jack and I were friends from his 1st day at Cactus. I was the AD and we would tease him about soccer. We told him why would you coach that sport, we are a football school. Boy, did he ever show us. Just like he did in so many other ways. Jack loved life, we all should live with his zeal and gusto. I last saw Jack when he subbed at my school. He told me about his latest trips. Sleeping in a yurt and hiking in Serbia, I thought WOW, I could never do that kind of stuff,I am too old, actually only 2 years older than Jack, but we all know Jack was always young. I will miss you my friend.

  13. Bob and Barbara Campbell

    Jack was our “neighbor across the street” for 12 years — beginning when Jacob was just a toddler. We talked everyday — about school, about soccer, about what Bob could fix in Jack’s house because Jack was too busy enjoying life to worry about the small stuff! Our fondest memory will always be the phone call we received when Jack was stuck in his Camaro at the I-17/Union Hills underpass in about 2 feet of water — when we arrived, there he sat in the car, windows down, soaking wet from walking to a phone to call us, with a huge smile on his face! Other people stuck there were upset and stressed. But, not you, Jack! You always helped us realize that life is for doing what you want and always seeing the good in everything and everyone. Our sympathies to Jacob and family. We will miss you, Jack; but don’t worry — yes, you will STILL always be our “BEST” neighbor!

  14. Russell Altersitz

    My brother, my friend and my mentor. You are already missed. You are forever in our hearts and we can only hope to live our lives as fully as you. Give Lucy, Mom and Dad a hug for me.rnrnWith love, Russell

  15. Susan Weber

    Jack once told me he was “wildly successful.” It was such a Jack statement. I have never known anyone so positive in his being, so able to sail above sadness, so determined to live. All obstacles in his life were temporary; setbacks simply circumstances either to be accepted or overcome. It was what made him extraordinary. It was what made him an unfailing friend. It was what drove his accomplishments. The last time I saw Jack we stood in front of his home in Ocean City and he pointed to a house down the street. That was where he’d lived those first summers in Ocean City, he told me. He never imagined then that he would one day own a beach home himself. He was so proud of that fact! Then he handed me a little tiny rust-pit of a bicycle that he’d rescued from someone’s dump and led me on a two-hour bike trip along the boardwalk, me pedaling furiously behind him, cursing under my breath, my knees bumping my chin.rnI’d get back on that bike today without complaint if it meant I could spend another day with him. I miss him terribly, and that will never end.

  16. Neil Bertelsen

    I still can’t believe this has happened. Life takes sudden turns and throws everyone spinning. There wasn’t anyone who enjoyed life more than Jack. He sure got alot out of it. I can only hope to get half of what he got out of his time on earth. May he rest in peace. My sympathies to his son and family.

  17. Walt Wilser

    Jack was my tent-mate on the 6-day hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro. I was not feeling very well but Jack’s positive attitude and coaching got me to the top. We celebrated at Uhuru Peak with a photo. I treasure the many emails I have from Jack describing his travels. I wanted to do another adventure with Jack but we never managed to match our schedules. I will miss you my friend and coach. My sympathies to your family and friends.

  18. Sue and Tony Morse

    I am so sad for Jacks loss, not only for those who knew him well but for the hearts that he would have touched. My memories of Jack are as a brother. From about 1960 on, Russ and I created alot of mischief that Jack always seemed to be connected to. My fondest memorie is of ridding in the back of Jacks car, flying around the 9th stree bridge curve, heading to his place on 12th for an increadable week. I thank God that Jack touched my heart. Tony

  19. David Saltzberg & Family

    My deepest sympathies to all Jack had to leave behind. He was loved by so many and touched by so many more. The world feels a bit emptier without him now. So involved and immersed in all he did, and so devoted to family. An amazing and wonderful soul. Thank you Jack, for all you have done for everyone, and for being a devoted Caffeine fan.

  20. Meredith and Joanna Skeath

    Dear Jacob and Family,nnI, Meredith, am Michael Hanau’s cousin and got to know Jack during Michael’s illness. He picked me up when I flew up from Washington, DC shortly after Michael’s diagnosis. It was quickly evident that Jack had dropped everything to come and help and was central in keeping the show of Michael’s family life going. I asked him what prompted him to do this. nnJack told me his mother had died from cancer when he was a teenager with a younger brother, that his father was never really functional after that, and that he and his brother had to basically raise themselves. He promised himself, that if he ever saw a family going through something like that in the future, he would not let them go through such a crisis alone.nnI thought to myself, “What a man.”nnMy second insight into Jack’s character came on a later visit, shortly before the time Michael died. He told me that he had been lying beside her on her bed the night before, since Ephraim had gone next door to Uncle Richard’s house to try and get some sleep. Michael had said, “I want to die.” I don’t remember what Jack said his reply was, but I know he neither scoffed, tossed it off, made a joke, or tried to talk her out of her intention. Then Michael asked Jack, “How do I do it?” Jack said something to the effect of “I don’t know, I guess you just kind of let go.” Two things are striking: the Michael felt close enough to Jack to tell him her deepest feelings and thoughts, without inhibition, and that Jack, without trying to “talk her out of her feelings” replied so empathetically and honestly. nnFInally, Jack told my daughter Joanna, that Uncle Richard had used to talk mostly to Michael about his feelings, but after Michael’s death Uncle Richard started opening up more to Jack. nnMay Jack’s memory be for a blessing to us all, though we feel a part of us has been amputated now, may his memory be for a blessing, always.nnThank you for the beautiful memorial.nnMeredith Skeathnn

  21. Chris Hall

    I was a student of Mr. Altersitz twenty years ago at Cactus. He was one of my favorite teachers. I was fortunate to have traveled with him to Washington DC in high school. I remember he spoke to us about how much a person could learn from traveling to new and foreign places. For some reason in the few times I have traveled abroad I have always thought of Mr. Altersitz and will continue to think of him and what he taught us. To his son Jacob and the rest of his family and friends I am very sorry to hear his passing.

  22. Fran Bader

    I met Jack many years ago, coaching my first high school soccer game.Wenboth grew up in N.J. which helped form a common bond. Through the years we worked hard together promoting the high school all-star soccer games. I never remember a time that I didn’t see that smile on his face.He enjoyed life like it should be lived to the fullest. We always had a laugh when we ran into each other. He lived life like it’s meant to be lived, enjoying every moment. Always remember that smile and think of Jack’s positive influence on everyone he met.nn

  23. Anonymous

    Much like another on this site has recalled, I, too, learned something from Jack every moment I spoke with him, and I will cherish those moments, only too few, especially the time he told me, with a twinkle in his eye, beware of a wolf in sheep?s clothing. What a laugh we had at that. We owe ourselves an adventure, Jack, to take in celebration of you. Peace be with your friends and family.

  24. Marcy Belanger

    What a tragic loss. Tom and I would like to send our condolences to Jack’s family and everyone who loved him. Jack you lived an amazing life. We loved to watch you coach, you touched so many lives. Thanks for inviting us to our first Hanaukah celebration. We will raise our glasses to you each time we are gathered in our kitchen, where you held court so many times at our parties. Marcy and Tom

  25. lin bennett

    I was so blessed that Patrick & Katrina brought Jack into my life. He was a true testiment of living life to it’s fullest, giving back and having fun.rnHis sense of devotion to family and friends should be a example to all. Jack i only had the privelge of having you in my life a short time but i will not forget our talks at the beach last summer, your stories kept me smiling! rnJacob and Family, i am so sorry for your loss, the world will miss this very special man.

  26. Patrick Kinahan

    My gosh, Jack, you were like the sun to me. For 40 years, even when I couldn’t see you, I always knew you were there. You’re still there, only expressed in a different sphere. n No way I’m where I’m at in life without you. You guided me on the correct path so many times, even if it wasn’t the road you would have chosen for yourself. You are a true disciple.n You were my best man at my wedding 24 years ago, and you still are. Nothing has changed. I’m happy that you’re with your sister and parents, but I’m sad for me. I miss you, brother.n PK

  27. Ron Srein

    I first met Jack back in 6th grade, and while we were always friendly toward eachother, our friendship grew to another level in college.He always had these great summer gigs at the shore, especially THE BIG SLIDE.Even while he was “working”, he was having a great time in Ocean City; and we didn’t mind “helping”.rnJack was always quick with a smile and a handshake. He could make the most recent acquaintence feel like his best friend. rnJack took an interest in an obscure sport, turned that interest into a passion, and turned that passion into a lifetime of acheivement and excellence. He then filled that life with his love of travel and adventure. Even back at “the Boro” he chased every exchange opportunity that came along and regaled of his time away when he returned.rnWhen I toasted our 40th year reunion in October, part of that toast was “to old friends rediscovered”. I’m so glad so many of us got to rediscover our old friend Jack and deeply regret not being able to contunue that rediscovery.rnMy deepest sympathies go out to all of Jack’s family.

  28. Jrgen Karlsson

    Jack was my teacher and coach when i studied in the US in the mid 80′s. His unconditional friendship was an enormous help – everything from getting sholarships, work – to letting us “crash” at his friends around the US on our cross-country trip. rnrnJack was simply a great guy and the loss is big as Jack was a friend for life!!!!

  29. Mike Iles

    Jack was my high school soccer coach for 4 years at Cactus High School in Glendale Arizona (1986-1989). He was a great Coach and even more important, he was a wonderful human being. I think it is important for his family to know the deep impact he had on many of our lives. That is why he is a Champion in the Arizona High School Soccer Hall of Fame and the Champion of our hearts. Jack, we love you, and you will not be forgotten!

  30. Raejene NIchols

    Mr. Altersitz was my psychology teacher and an inspiration. After 11 years, Jack remembered me when I saw him in the district office. I was now a teacher and he wished me the best. He will be missed. My condolences to his family and friends.

  31. Carolyn Chieco Loftus

    I am a cousin of Jack’s ex wife Janet and live in NY. I am 10 years younger than Jack and used to see him when he and his wife visited our grandmother back in the early 70′s. Jack was always so nice to me and spent a lot of time talking to me about my thoughts and plans for the future. He was one of the only adults that I remember who actually cared about what a kid had to think. Unfortunately, when Janet and Jack moved to Arizona, we lost touch. I truly remember him as an awesome guy and I was so happy to read about what a full life he had. As a mom now to a high schooler who just played in the New York State Soccer Championship in November, I am in awe of what Jack did on the soccer field. I’m so sad he died so young. I have such fond memories of him. My best to his son.

  32. Maria Ynes

    Desde Cusco siempre estaras en nuestro corazon y en el corazon de 80 nios que recibieron muestras de tu generosidad, amor y aprendieron a creer que existen personas bondadosas en el mundo

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