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Sort of like a grandpa: The legendary ‘Doc’

Created date

August 25th, 2009
PA_0909_likeagrandpa_caricature
PA_0909_likeagrandpa_caricature

Joseph Jurich is known simply as Doc. A legend in the schools where he taught and coached for nearly four decades, he has played the role of surrogate father and grandfather to all of the children in his life. Doc never had children or grandchildren of his own, and a natural bond developed with the kids he taught and coached throughout his career children who are now grown and stay in contact with him, inviting him to their weddings and their own children s basketball, football, and lacrosse games. These days, he also stands as a grandpa for the student servers in the restaurants at Ann s Choice, the community where he lives in Bucks County, Pa. I m impressed by all the abilities of these kids, he says. They do so many things amazing things other than what we see them do. One of the Ann s Choice servers, Joe B., lost a classmate and organized a charity event to raise money for the family. Another server played piano at the benefit. Others volunteer at daycare centers, sacrificing their time to serve others. These kids make an impact on the world around them, and Doc is honored to be a part of their lives.

Name recognition

Doc s life, too, has been filled with service to others. In addition to coaching basketball, football, lacrosse, and swimming, he worked with kids with physical disabilities. A blind girl gained confidence after he taught her how to walk on a balance beam. Broken bones were mended and rehabbed under his care. But Doc did much more than just physically put these kids back together; he helped them mend emotionally, resulting in bonds that will last a lifetime. My students have always been the most important part of my life, Doc says. In fact, his dedication to his charges led to his new name. One year, when was serving as the athletic trainer at Abington High School, a boy hurt his knee during a game. Jurich took the boy out, saying the injury was too severe for him to continue playing. The coach ran over to him and said, Come on, Doc, I gotta have my player! Doc stayed firm, and the nickname stuck as well, a tag showing the respect, love, and admiration of his students. When Joanne Jurich started dating Doc, it was 1985, the year he had stopped teaching. Even so, they d be walking down the boardwalk, and she d hear, Yo, Doc, and kids would wave. They recognized him everywhere we went, she says. She asked him what that was all about, and he filled her in on stories of his students who fondly referred to him by the nickname.

Drawing on experience

When he was still teaching, Doc would sketch caricatures in the students yearbooks. Throughout his career, he did almost 9,000. At Ann s Choice, he s drawn nearly 16 caricatures of the student employees who have been awarded scholarships through the community s Scholar Fund. They invite him to their graduations, which both Mr. and Mrs. Jurich attend with beaming hearts. In addition to caricatures, Doc does watercolor painting; he paints designs on old ivory piano keys; and he does scrimshaw art, etching and filling designs with India ink on whale teeth. Still, the artwork that s most important to him is not seen on any canvas; it s in cultivating meaningful relationships. That s why he draws the caricatures for the student servers to connect with them and give them a little piece of himself. Family is very important, Mrs. Jurich says, and we consider all Doc s students and the young servers in the dining room part of our extended family. One of Doc s former lacrosse players has gone on to work for the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon Doc even got a tour! and a former student living in Chicago is friends with President Obama and Michelle. I m very proud of all my kids, Doc says. They are my family.

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