Sept. 27, 1926 – Feb. 23, 2017
John Walter Sturm, of the Town of Tonawanda, who retired as a top scholastic soccer coach in Western New York, died Thursday in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short illness. He was 90.
Born in Buffalo, he was co-valedictorian of his class at Bishop Newman High School. He served in the Marine Corps in World War II, was wounded in the Battle of Iwo Jima and was awarded the Purple Heart. After the war, he was deployed to China.
Returning from service, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Cortland State Teachers College and a master’s degree in education from the University of Buffalo.
Mr. Sturm taught for more than 30 years in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District and was a summer session day camp counselor. A physical education teacher in elementary and middle schools, he also was the varsity soccer and junior varsity baseball coach at Kenmore East High School.
He retired in 1990.
During his 22 years as soccer coach, his Bulldog teams won 200 games, lost 75, tied 67 and had a 53-game winning streak over five seasons in the 1970s. They were nine-time sectional champions and had only one losing season.
He was inducted into the Kenmore East High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996 and was honored with a New York State coaching award. A number of his players went on to compete professionally.
He also coached baseball at Kenmore East for 18 years, with a 175-73 win-loss record.
He was a multiple gallon American Red Cross blood donor and assisted veterans at Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center as a volunteer.
He was a member of A.J. Jurek Post 1672, American Legion, and coached post teams. He visited the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., through the Honor Flight program.
An avid golfer, he won a local short course tournament and shot a hole-in-one in 2003. He also took part in bocce, shuffleboard and bowling at the Tonawanda Senior Center.
He was a devoted caregiver for his wife after a major health crisis in 2010, enabling her to continue living at home. He took part in caregiver workshops and support groups.
Survivors include his wife of 62 years, the former Patricia Ann Hartwig, a retired teacher; two daughters, Mary and Tracy; a son, John M.; and a grandson.
Services with military honors will be held at noon Thursday in Lombardo Funeral Home, 885 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst.