John Molesworth

The Baltimore Sun

John E. "Jack" Molesworth, former executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association and a Western Maryland College football coach, died Friday at Frederick Memorial Hospital of complications from a fall. He was 80.

Mr. Molesworth was born in Baltimore and raised on his family's Frederick County farm. After graduating from Frederick High School in 1944, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served with the 2nd Marine Division in occupied Japan.

In 1948, Mr. Molesworth enrolled at Western Maryland College, where he played center for the Green Terrors football team and boxed.

"He was tall and lanky and always played with a lot of heart. He was also a member of our 1951 undefeated football team," said Victor J. Makovitch, a teammate who became a Carroll County school principal.

"He also ran a successful college catering business with Leroy Merritt, his roommate," said his college sweetheart and wife of 55 years, the former Nancy Walker, a retired Frederick County teacher. "They cooked and delivered hot dogs to students in the dorms."

After earning a bachelor's degree in history in 1952, Mr. Molesworth was a teacher and assistant football coach at Mount Airy High School, St. Paul's School and Westminster High School. He returned to his alma mater and earned a master's degree in education in 1959.

From 1957 to 1966, he was head coach and director of athletics at Frederick High School and worked in a similar capacity at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School from 1966 to 1971. In 1971, he was appointed vice principal of Westminster High School, which opened that year. Not long afterward, he was named executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.

"As a person, Jack Molesworth was an outstanding citizen and certainly loved sports," said Richard M. Petre, retired assistant deputy state superintendent of schools and a longtime friend.

"When Title IX came along, he made sure there were equal teams for both girls and boys, and spent much of the 1970s doing that. He also made sure there were an equal number of playoff and championship games for both girls and boys. It was his major achievement," Mr. Petre said.

During his tenure, the athletic association went from six to 17 state tournaments, which he organized for several sports. He also supervised officials and interpreted rules and regulations.

Mr. Molesworth resigned from his state job in 1981 and took what he said was his "dream job," head football coach at Western Maryland College in Westminster. "I was looking for someone who could do the job and not be a full-time employee," said Dick Clower, who was the college's athletic director until retiring in 1998.

"The thing was that Jack had contacts with the high school coaches, and this helped in recruiting young people," Mr. Clower said. "Plus, he was very laid-back."

"Motivation is the No. 1 aspect of football," Mr. Molesworth told The Sun in 1981. "I was coaching 14 years, and it took me 10 to find that out."

"He was the consummate professional," said Sam Case, a retired Western Maryland provost. "He believed in the educational process and always put his kids and players first. In his coaching, he always exhibited the highest ideals in integrity and sportsmanship."

Rick Carpenter, a sports psychologist and a former athletic director, described Mr. Molesworth as a "role model for the men he coached. He was the type of coach every parent would want their son to play for."

In 1986, Mr. Molesworth stepped down as coach after an 0-9 season.

During his five years as coach, his record was 14-28-3, and his best season was his first, when Western Maryland went 5-3-1. "I have no bitter feelings; I'm just sorry I couldn't make it work," he said when he resigned. "I'll miss the associations and the campus, but I won't miss having my stomach turned inside out every Saturday."

He was a member of the Maryland High School Athletic Directors Hall of Fame and the Maryland High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, an avid reader, a history buff and a golfer.

Mr. Molesworth was a member of Calvary United Methodist Church in Frederick, where services will be held at 10 a.m. today.

Also surviving are a son, Dr. John K. Molesworth of Frederick; two daughters, Jean Lee Kee of Alexandria, Va., and Janet Ann Hough of Ocean City; six grandchildren; and two stepgrandchildren.

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