When he took to the podium at the 2019 John Wanamaker athletic awards luncheon early Tuesday afternoon, recently retired basketball coach Fran Dunphy spent little time discussing his own work.
PHL Sports presented Dunphy with the John Wanamaker Athletic Award for the way he’s represented Philadelphia during his 30-year career at Penn and Temple, but it was Dunphy’s gratitude to the city and its people that took center stage.
While he was grateful for the recognition of his contributions to the Philadelphia community, Dunphy focused on the privilege that he’s had to become a local fixture. In spending his professional life as a mentor for student-athletes, Dunphy embraced the responsibility to better the lives of his players, staff, friends, and family.
“That’s the whole idea behind being the best Philadelphians that we can be,” he said to a crowded Crystal Tea Room at the Wanamaker Building. “What do you expect of me, and am I meeting those expectations? We need time to reflect and appreciate what we have.”
Just as important to Dunphy as the relationships that he does have, though, are the ones that live on in memory. He wished to share the day with late Phillies president David Montgomery, who began his Phillies career selling tickets in 1971 before rising through the organization and becoming a beloved Philadelphian. Montgomery died last month after a battle with cancer, but he earned posthumous recognition at the Wanamaker banquet with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dunphy spent significant time alongside Montgomery before his passing, and he recalled Montgomery’s desire to be known for his selflessness.
“He thought it was his job to connected you to others, anything for the greater good,” Dunphy said. “When he got sick ... he showed us to be determined, courageous, and tough, while always turning the attention away from him and back to you.”
In Dunphy, Montgomery’s memory is embodied. Dunphy does little to ask for attention. Despite his unassuming presence, and wearing a simple suit that he said was the “first one off the rack," he couldn’t avoid the spotlight at his own event. He sat through a glowing introduction that featured his impact on Philadelphia and glowing praise from college basketball coaches from across the country.
Dunphy’s honor followed the presentation of the Robert P. Levy Community Service Award and The City of Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation Sports Volunteer Award to Give and Go Athletics and Jayhawks Youth Association, respectively. Caleb Jones and Andre Wright founded Give and Go Athletics in 2009 to improve the lives of Philadelphia’s youth through sports. Jayhawks Youth Association president and founder Andre Crews and his wife, Konie, have committed more than 40 years to developing youth by teaching life skills for future educational and employment opportunities.