Allentown Central Catholic High School
social studies teacher, longtime cross country and track coach, and former State Representative John F.
“Jack” Pressmann died at the age of 56 on July 24, 2009, after
collapsing while hiking on Mt. Langley in Eastern California. The hike
was a fundraiser to benefit inner city youth participation in wildlife
Jack was a teacher at Allentown Central
Catholic High School, his alma
mater, since 2005. He was the head cross country coach from 1997 and head track coach from 1998 until his death. During his
tenure, the girls cross country team won the 2001 PIAA AAA championship
and were the runner ups in 2005. They won the District XI championship
four times and the Lehigh Valley Conference championship three times.
He coached Frances Koons to a State Championship in cross country in
2003 and a State Track Championship in 2004. In addition to cross
country and track, he had also coached swimming and wrestling. He was
also adjunct professor at Lehigh Carbon Community College and
Northampton County Community College. In 2010 Jack was elected to
Allentown Central Catholic High School’s Wall of Fame and named a
Jack’s public service included serving as a Lehigh County Commissioner from 1982 – 1984 and being elected as State Representative for the 132nd legislative district in 1984. He served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives until 1990. He was also the Democratic nominee for Mayor of Allentown in 1993. At the time of his death, he was the chairman of the Allentown Redevelopment Authority. He was also a member of the Lehigh County General Practice Authority and a former member of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome Committee and the Sertoma Club.
Jack’s other interests included hiking, bike riding, kayaking, traveling, fishing and model trains. He was involved in political organizations including the Allentown Democratic Committee and the Lehigh County Democratic Committee.
Jack was married to Deborah Couto-Pressmann for 32 years. They have three children, Sean, Laura and Daniel. He is also survived by his mother, Patricia Pressmann, three sisters and twelve nieces and nephews.
The impact that Jack Pressmann had on those whose lives he touched was reflected in student comments after his death. “He helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. I don't think I would have done anything with my life if it wasn't for him. He was the only one who was able to motivate me whether it be in school or running” wrote one student. Another said, “As a coach he taught us not only how to be a good runner, but how to be a better person and to transfer that drive and determination from sports into other aspect of our lives.” Another student shared, “Few people had the passion and zeal for teaching that Jack had”. A parent of one of his students shared this thought: “We had come to know him as a devoted and caring coach whose advice was unselfish and unfailingly correct. All future coaches will be judged by the "Jack Pressmann" standard, and we will consider ourselves fortunate to ever find another like him.”