Phelan, Jack

Jack Phelan (John J.) passed away unexpectedly on July 20, 2020. Jack was born on June 14, 1954 to Marian Bennett Phelan and Kenneth Phelan in Hartford. Jack loved his hometown, loved growing up on Oxford Street in the West End of the city with his family and loved Elizabeth Park, where he was able to run and play as children of the 1960’s were free to do.
Jack attended Saint Joseph’s Cathedral School in Hartford through the eighth grade, was a proud 1972 graduate of Northwest Catholic High School, and after a year at Saint Thomas More Prep School, Jack went on to Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania where he enjoyed a stellar career on the basketball court. Upon graduation in 1977, Jack was drafted by both the NBA Golden State Warriors in the 6th round and by the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers, despite having played only one year of football in high school.
Coaching was his first love. He was a natural and used his skills in all he did. After his brief stints in the NBA and NFL, Jack took a graduate assistant position at Niagara University, and then moved on to an assistant basketball coach position at Fairfield University. From there Jack was hired to come to the University of Hartford as head men’s basketball coach. Jack held that position from 1981-1992, during which time he led the team’s move from Division II to Division I. At one time, Jack was the youngest Division I coach in the country.
After leaving the University of Hartford, Jack utilized his coaching skills in his work with the Sullivan Group, where he worked with small business owners on improving profits and sales. Jack’s role for the past seventeen years was director of athletics at Farmington High School. He loved this position and made many meaningful and lasting friendships there. He loved the students in the high school and wanted them to experience the joy of sports that had enriched his entire life. Jack was a mentor to more people than could be counted. Colleagues and friends looked to him for career advice and college recommendations for their children. Jack knew everyone. Jack made everyone around him feel important. He had a knack for names and remembrances from years past. His storytelling skills were second to none.
Jack was inducted into the Northwest Catholic High School Athletic Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the University of Hartford’s Athletic Hall of Fame as a Trailblazer in 2009 and last summer he was inducted into the Saint Francis University Hall of Fame. His family was there to cheer him on in all of his accomplishments.
Most important to Jack was his family. He was predeceased by his parents, Marian and Kenneth Phelan and his older brother Kenneth G. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Patti and his three sons and their wives, Ken and Lisa (Weber), Jack and Courtney (Krzyzek) and Patrick and Mckenzie (Kelly). He leaves the lights of his life, his five grandchildren, Finley, Alice, Emmerson, Evelyn and Bennett. Jack is also survived by his sister Maureen and her husband Fern Richard, his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Peter and MaryAnn Politi, and many special cousins, nephews and a beloved aunt.
A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, 140 Farmington Avenue, Hartford immediately followed by interment at Mount Saint Peter Cemetery, 219 New Haven Avenue, Derby, Connecticut. Seating at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph is limited to invitation only. A public memorial will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Saint Francis University Men’s Basketball Program at Saint Francis University, Office of Advancement, P.O Box 600, Loretto Pennsylvania 15940 or on line at
Your life was our blessing.
Your memory a treasure.
You were loved beyond words.
You are missed beyond measure.

Calling Hours

Funeral Service

Cathedral of St. Joseph ~ Hartford ***Invitation Only***


Mount Saint Peter Cemetery ~ Derby

Memorial Contribution

Saint Francis University Men’s Basketball Program at Saint Francis University, Office of Advancement, P.O Box 600, Loretto Pennsylvania 15940 or on line at

18 Responses to 'Phelan, Jack'

  1. Patti and Family,
    So sorry for your loss. I have such fond memories of Jack from Northwest and especially basketball. I remember his smile, sweet demeanor and incredible presence. He was too young to be taken from you and too nice a guy. You will be in my prayers.
    Louise Pelletier Albin

  2. Walt Sherwin says:

    To the Phelan Family. My deepest sympathy in Jack’s passing- too soon,
    We lost a great man- Coach @ Athletic Leader. I taught and coached Jack in his PG year at STM prep.,He was a natural leader who loved Sports.25 years later, I again got to meet and work with Jack, as fellow AD’s…. Myself at Montville-Jack at Farmington… always Coach !…We who knew him were truly blessed!!!!

  3. The Janeiro Family says:

    Dear Phelan Family,
    Our deepest condolences. We will keep you all in our prayers during this difficult time.
    The Janeiro Family

  4. Liz Curran Wickenkamp says:

    With my sincere sympathy to Jack’s Phelan’s family and dear friends! I was so saddened to hear of his untimely death. I will always remember Jack’s great smile and personality while we all graduated from NWCH class of 1972!.
    May Jack rest in eternal peace. May God be with you all during these most difficult days and months to come and give you strength and peace when needed most 🙏
    With my sincere sympathy

  5. Jane Leary says:

    Patti, Ken, Jack, Patrick, and Family,

    On behalf of the Northwest Catholic family, I offer my deepest sympathy on the passing of Jack. Jack, along with your family, is a valued member of the Northwest Catholic community, so we mourn his loss along with all who love him. Please know that Jack and your entire family will be remembered in a special way at our school-wide Mass in September. We are very sorry for your loss. ~ Jane Leary, Director of Constituent Relations, Northwest Catholic High School.

  6. ellen McKone-Stafford says:

    Patti, I will always remember his smile and laugh-
    I remember seeing you both at church-I was with my daughter Courtney who was always with my aunt Jeano and Rita-on Saturday afternoons.and the look on Jack’ face when he realized that she ws MY daughter was priceless-

    I am sure he is reunited with his brother and certainly telling a few stories.

    Hold on to your children and grandchildren-

    with Love
    Ellen McKone-Stafford

  7. Susan Milligan Szymaszek says:

    Maureen, I was so devastated to hear of Jacks death. You were all so blessed to have him in your lives. Jack was obviously respected and loved by all he encountered. You and his family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. John and Jeanne Lynch says:

    Patti, Ken, Jack and Pat,

    We are deeply sorry for your loss. So sad as we lost a great one. I’ve known Jack since the early 60’s as we grew up together on Oxford Street. We spent countless hours together at 198 Oxford Street, playing hoops at Elizabeth Park or any playground or gym we could get into as well as attending Northwest Catholic H. S together. We played together for 4 more years where Jack lead us to Northwest Catholics first State Basketball Title in 1972. Jack left us as a legacy and a one-of-a-kind mark having a positive impact on all who knew him. Jack was a great athlete, a great/loyal friend and most of all a great person. He will be in our hearts and memories forever and missed by all.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this very difficult time.

    John and Jeanne Lynch

  9. Joe Bigos says:

    Patti and family,
    Please accept my condolences – this was such shocking news. After all of our good times at Saint Francis, all I can remember is his huge smile. Please stay safe, as well as your kids and grandkids. Wishing you all the best going forward.

  10. Katy and George Colli says:

    The Smile, The Laugh, the Voice and the sincere greeting everytime
    we saw him over 50 years. Will never be forgotten. God Bless Jack Phelan and Family

  11. The Alfano Family says:

    Most sincere prayers and condolences to the family. Jack was a great man and a great athletic director and touched so many lives. He will be greatly missed.

  12. Paul Stringer says:

    Rest in Peace my friend. Know that you will be sorely missed but forever remembered by all.
    Peace be unto Patti and the Phelan family. May God Bless you all.

  13. Adam Guertin says:

    Patrick, Mckenzie, Maureen, Fern and entire Phelan family,
    So deeply sorry to learn of your loss. Jack is now, undoubtedly in good company— though little does that diminish the pain left behind. Cherish the legacy and moments had.
    We stand beside you,
    Emily and Adam Guertin


    To the Phelan Family: Jack was a man of honor and integrity and he was a friend to all who knew him. He had a way of making people feel important and I always felt like he was in my corner. He was a special soul and I really enjoyed working with him, he will be terribly missed!

    Please accept my heartfelt condolences at this very difficult time on behalf of the Bloomfield High School Athletic Department

  15. Tom McGuire says:

    Dear Patti, & Family:
    Now Dick Fairbrother has two of his starting five!
    I played hoops with Jack & Kenny, the afternoon of Kenny’s tragic passing, and remained a good friend of Jack’s, over the years. My brother, Kevin (and cousin, Barbara Blanchfield Carpenter) graduated from NWCHS with Jack, so we’ve had that McGuire/Blancfield/Carpenter connection, for a very long time!
    I’m usually very good with words, and story telling (like Jack was), but this is a tough one. Jack was a special friend, who lit up the world with his smile and personality, and everyone who ever knew him will miss not being able to see him, whenever the opportunity arose. Jack was a “class act”, and I will never forget what a great friend and caring person he was.

    Tom McGuire

  16. Linda Carlson says:

    Dear Patti and Family, Please accept my heartfelt sympathy at Jack’s death. As a Sullivan Group colleague, I know that Jack was the soul of kindness. His too early passing is heartbreaking. Linda Carlson

  17. Kevin and Marcella Grodzki says:

    Patti, Ken, Jack, Patrick and Family,
    We are so sorry to hear the news. Jack was a kind, loyal friend and a talented and supportive teammate – I will forever remember his smile, laugh and kind heart. We will all miss him terribly.
    God bless you and your families and rest in peace my friend.

    Kevin & Marcella Grodzki

  1. […] brief stints in the NBA and NFL, according to his obituary Phelan gravitated to his first love – coaching – beginning as a graduate assistant at Niagara […]

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