OAK GROVE, Mo. – Some call him “Mr. Oak Grove,” others know him as “dad” or husband,” and hundreds simply know him as “coach.” After four decades at Oak Grove High School football Coach George Pirch has passed away. Family tell FOX 4 he lost his battle with cancer on Saturday morning.
“It wasn’t just a job; it was life,” Ruth Pirch said, describing how her husband spent decades of his life on the field.
She said the two were married for more than fifty years.
“He was so truthful, I never once doubted my love for him, it was always there,” she told FOX 4.
Hundreds of students rallied around Pirch over the past few years while he was fighting cancer. They gave him the best gift in 2014, when after four decades at the high school, he got to see his team win the state championship game.
Former students and football players said his lessons extended beyond the length of a football field and into everyday life.
“He told me what it means to truly be a man,” said Montana Fish. “It didn’t take money, it didn’t take strength or power over other people. What made you a man was the person you are inside of you and that meant you were always willing to do anything for the people you loved.”
Dozens of former students said one of their favorite lessons Pirch taught them was how to give a proper handshake. Some credit the lesson for helping them get their first job.
Family said plans for his service are still in the works, but they hope to incorporate the football field he loved so much.