Francis Lafferty: Legendary teacher, coach in Muncie IN
Lafferty among founders of Delaware County Athletic Hall of Fame
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, INDIANA - Amid pouring rain, Father Dennis Goth offered plenty of words to describe Francis Lafferty and the impact he had on youth during his last mass on Wednesday.
Tenacious, driven and giving were among the qualities of the Muncie Central Bearcat who taught and coached in Muncie and Saint Lawrence Church schools besides served on countless boards of government and charitable groups.
His recent death gave the community time to pause as Lafferty was among the last of a generation of great youth activists and coaches like Odie Barnett, Bob Heeter, and Bobbie Graves. He rests in Beech Grove Cemetery with family.
Goth told Lafferty's family and friends at Saint Lawrence how he never held a grudge except that one time his beloved Bearcats were beat in the 1960 high school basketball championship by East Chicago Washington, a game he always refused to watch.
It was milestones that Lafferty achieved like being the first basketball coach of the then new Northside High School more than 40 years ago or creating the Delaware County Athletic Hall of Fame that he and others began that made the educator and coach famous in local sporting history.
He also served as principal at Saint Lawrence School and also was chairman and a member of the church's parish council.
Goth recalled when Lafferty suffered a serious stroke in 2000 and fought back to continue coaching and community activism until his passing last week.
Lafferty's name, as Goth said, can be found on baseball fields, building plaques and other places throughout the community.
Lafferty and Barnett adopted an old baseball field in McCulloch Park, fixed it up and played amateur baseball there under American Legion sponsorship. That ballpark later was named after Lafferty.
His daughter Marianne Vorhees, a Delaware County Circuit Court judge, recalled the impact her father made on the community besides her and others siblings. Vorhees played softball in high school and college, graduating from Notre Dame University with a law degree.