Michael F. Mayock, 86, of Philadelphia, a longtime teacher and sports coach at the Haverford School, a football star at Villanova University before that, and the father of eight, died Sunday, Jan. 3, at his daughter’s home in Lexington, Va. He had been living with a heart condition and other ailments.
Mr. Mayock was 6-foot-4 with a handshake that gobbled up most other hands. A natural athlete, he was drafted by the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955 but turned down the tryout to teach middle school math and coach football, golf, and squash at Philadelphia-area schools.
A man of few words — they called him “Lurch,” after the silent butler in The Addams Family — he inspired his family and nearly everyone he came across with his outsized personality. One former colleague called his understated viewpoints her Mayockian Principles.
“He had a big presence,” said his daughter Molly Mayock.
“He was bigger than life,” said his son Dan Mayock. “But he knew how to deal with people. That was his ultimate best skill.”
It seems that everyone has a Mike Mayock story.
Molly Mayock tells of the tough-guy football coach pleading with her high school field hockey coach to take her out of the only game he attended because the action seemed too rough. “He said it was dangerous. How ironic is that?” she said.
Dan Mayock recalls the busy teacher and coach stepping up around the house when his mother went out to work. Mr. Mayock did the shopping and cooking, and even baked fresh bread. “He was interested in more than football,” his son said.
Mike Mayock, the oldest child, said Mr. Mayock, then an assistant football coach at Penn, bought “victory cakes” for the family when the struggling Quakers rarely won. The team surprisingly won seven games one season, and Mr. Mayock’s wife, Susanne, questioned the coach about the expense of all that cake.
“He said, ‘Sue, it’s hard to win football games. Let them eat cake,’ ” Mike Mayock said.
Mr. Mayock, one of eight children, was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in 1934. His father, a grocer, died when he was 8, and his mother and the family moved to the Overbrook section of Philadelphia to be near kin. He went to St. Joseph’s Prep and was the senior captain and star end on the 1954 Villanova football team.
Caring for a large family was challenging for Mr. Mayock’s mother, and he always said her hard work, discipline, and curiosity about others inspired him to be like her. He met Susanne Trainer on a blind date in 1957, went to her mother’s uncle’s wake on their second date to prove his love, and they married three months later.
The Mayocks were together almost 60 years, until she died in 2017. They lived mostly in Overbrook and Wynnewood, and he taught and coached at St. John’s School, Malvern Prep, Welsh Valley Middle School, and for 26 years at the Haverford School.
His best football teams in seven seasons at Malvern Prep and then 12 at Haverford School went undefeated and won championships. Even his losing teams made memories. Mr. Mayock’s youngest son, Matt, was on the winless 1983 Haverford team that upset mighty Malvern Prep, and father and son touched base every Oct. 29 for years afterward to gloriously relive the details of that momentous victory.
“He made kids with no self-confidence or awareness know that we were good, that we had value,” Matt Mayock wrote.
He taught math, Latin, history, and literature. After he retired in 1996, former students were so moved they funded the annual Michael F. Mayock Distinguished Teacher-Coach Award. He and all five of his sons are members of the Haverford School athletic hall of fame.
Mr. Mayock loved to garden and talk about the holes-in-one he shot. He was old school, followed the rules, and did not like the limelight or public speaking. But he laughed a lot. His daughter Ellen Mayock wrote in a tribute that he was “somehow both predictable and hilarious.”
“It is impossible to overestimate the impact he had on so many people,” a friend wrote in a tribute.
In addition to his three sons and two daughters, Mr. Mayock is survived by sons Mark and Peter Mayock, a sister, 18 grandchildren, and other relatives. His daughter Mary Ellen died earlier.
A service is to be later.