November 21, 2017

Edward J. Dudo

Died Oct. 2, 2017

Posted

Edward Jack Dudo, 94, died Oct. 2, 2017, in Big Rapids.

He was born in Gladstone Dec. 7, 1922. Known throughout his life as Jack, he spent his early years in L'Anse. He graduated from high school at Laona, Wis. His birthday, Dec. 7, would later become an infamous day with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Following graduation he trained in aviation mechanics at Sault Ste. Marie. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on March 2, 1943. Due to his training, he was placed on the aircraft carrier USS Independence CVL22 for the duration of World War II. He was honorably discharged Feb. 8, 1946, earning 11 stars and a Victory medal. His strong desire to work with young people motivated him to pursue and complete a teaching degree, graduating from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

Jack moved to Whittemore in 1954 after being informed that the center of the basketball team was 6 feet, 7 inches tall. Twin brothers two years younger added potential with the height of 6 feet, 5 inches, and 6 feet, 4 inches. Upon arrival he found a group of uncoached, small-town boys who were eager to play basketball. With no school gym the only facility for playing was the military-style Quonset hut built by the locals returning from WWll. The structure bore little resemblance to a gymnasium.

Coach Dudo's first team quickly received recognition throughout the region as a great contender. Winning against teams that came from communities five times their size, the teams he produced went on to win championship trophies at every level. As the victories continued, a dilemma arose. Not only was the playing floor of the facility inadequate, but neighboring schools did not want to travel to Whittemore to play due to the fact that there was no locker room or shower for the sweaty players to use before a winter ride home on a school bus. Coach Dudo resolved the problem by personally building a visiting team locker room which contained _one shower_! Only a person with vision and dedication to his boys would have stayed with the situation that offered so few conveniences. Before long, coach Dudo had gained the esteem of the small community. He was known for his wit and dedication to lend a helping hand. As a practicing Roman Catholic, he was honored one year to receive the award of the Most Outstanding Methodist Man. He was not only a skilled coach, but instilled moral and ethical values in his players. He maintained the same standard in his classrooms.

Dedication to young adults was often seen by the hours he spent driving players home after basketball, football, baseball or track events, often arriving home late as 1 a.m. This was to ensure that each individual would have the opportunity to participate in sports. Many of the individuals did not have transportation due to distance or family situations that allowed for sports involvement. Coach Dudo, without recompense for his time, performed this unassigned task because he knew the positive impact a sport could make in a young person’s life.

His dedication was also seen in his development of the wood and metal shops. Students produced fine furniture and other items designed in his classroom. Spring showings of the students’ accomplishments filled a large hall, and many offers were made for students to sell their finished products.

Coach Dudo began his tenure at Clare Public Schools in 1967, where he maintained the same dedication and moral stature. This was demonstrated when he created a cross country program that participated in state finals for consecutive years. Because there was not a cross country trail for training, coach Dudo, by his own initiative, created, mowed and maintained a course that is now utilized by the residents of Clare as a walking trail. He also developed a fine program for mechanical drawing, which prepared many to enter the fields of engineering, drafting and trades. He was always visible in the hallways of the high schools, communicating and interacting with students, which exemplified his dedication to young adults. He often voiced, “As a coach and a teacher, I never felt that I went to work a day in my life.” His former students often comment a common theme, “Coach was one of the most influential persons in my formative years.”

Following his retirement in 1987, he continued instructing at Mid Michigan Community College.

He is remembered fondly by his surviving wife, Audrey; his children, Lizabeth and James; a granddaughter, Kathryn; a brother; two sisters; and nieces and nephews. His caring nature has impacted many lives over the years. The many trophies held in both the Whittemore-Prescott High School and the Clare High School pay tribute to the skill that Coach Dudo possessed. Born with a spirit of generosity, he gave out of his personal life to make life better for others.

At the present time some of his former athletes and students are establishing the Coach Dudo Century Club, CDCC. The fund is for the betterment of the scholastic environment of future students at Whittemore-Prescott High School. Memorial donations to the CDCC will begin during the early months of 2018.

Jack leaves a heritage of positive influence and many happy memories. He possessed a strong faith in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We rest in the assurance that he is healthy and whole, enjoying a new life in heaven.

Arrangements and care have been entrusted to the Daggett-Gilbert Funeral Home in Big Rapids.

Share a memory or leave a condolence for the family by clicking the guestbook tab at www.daggettgilbertfuneralhome.com.

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