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1937 John 2019

John Birkett

February 4, 1937 — December 25, 2019

John C. Birkett (Coach) of Tucson, AZ died Christmas morning 2019, surrounded by his beloved family. John was born in Dubuque, Iowa on February 4, 1937 to Don and Maryel Birkett. He was the second oldest of eleven children.
From 1950 to 1954 John attended Loras Academy in Dubuque, an all-boys military academy. He played football, basketball and golf and was an honor student in spite of working as a newspaper boy and part-time helper at a downtown office supply store. He then attended Loras College and played basketball and golf. The golf team won the State College Championship over 31 other colleges and universities in 1957. John later received a Master’s Degree from the State College of Iowa, now the University of Northern Iowa. Birkett graduated from Loras in 1958 and was hired at Don Bosco High School near Waterloo, Iowa as head basketball and baseball coach, as well as athletic director. Birkett’s basketball teams won 101 and lost 35 games over a seven year tenure, which included four conference championships. In 1965 he was hired as head basketball coach at Lincoln High School in Stockton, California, where he coached until 1971 with a record of 101 wins and 36 losses, winning three conference championships and two second-place finishes in six years. Birkett was named San Joaquin County “Coach of the Year” four times.
Birkett was then hired as freshman coach at the University of the Pacific for the 1971-72 season, attaining a 21-5 record. He was then hired as varsity assistant basketball coach at University of California Santa Barbara from 1972 to 1974. In 1974 he was named Head Basketball Coach at Northern Arizona University. Birkett coached the Lumberjacks for four years and was the head of Intramurals and Recreation for most of a fifth year.
John coached 486 total games, winning 70% of them for a 340-146 life-time record.
Birkett left NAU in late 1979 to start his own real estate appraisal company in Flagstaff. During this time he was active in the Kiwanis Club, serving as President in 1979-1980. The Kiwanis Club distributed extensive monies to Flagstaff charities and youth groups.
John then relocated to Stockton, California to work for the nation’s fifth largest builder, returning to Flagstaff in 1993 to resume his appraisal business. The business was successful for the next 25 years, thanks to the people of Flagstaff and Northern Arizona.
John was involved in many charitable and civic organizations. He ran for County Supervisor in 1996, losing by 78 votes. He was appointed to the Forest Highlands Foundation Board of Directors and served for approximately four years. During that time the Foundation contributed over $2,000,000 to Flagstaff and Northern Arizona. He also served on the Flagstaff Parks and Recreation Commission for 7 years, during which time an $11,000,000 bond issue was approved for restoration and apparatus equipment, benefitting several local parks.
In 2007 Dave Brown and John Birkett established the Flagstaff Sports Foundation to help needy young athletes participate in and enjoy sports activities. The Foundation has helped over 300 young athletes over the years. Working with young people has always been an important part of John’s life.
John had a passion for golf, playing many courses in the United States, Mexico and the British Isles. A fierce competitor, he enjoyed organizing and participating in many golf tournaments with his friends
John and his wife, Jan, celebrated their 40th anniversary this year. Together they have six children: Pam Birkett Tschantre (Kevin) of Stanwood, WA, Barbara Birkett Vaughn (Jason) of Kansas City, MO, Janet Birkett Kurth (Jeff) of Ackley, IA, John David Birkett of Lodi, CA, Suzy Tuttle Kartchner (Zane) of Tucson, AZ, and Marc Tuttle (Charlotte) of Stockton, CA. They also have numerous grandchildren and a respectable and ever-increasing number of great-grandchildren. John was “Grandpa Buzzard” to his grandchildren, introducing them to the adventures of “secret plans” and was looking forward to doing the same with the next generation. His children love him for his strength, guidance, great sense of fun and unconditional love.
John also is survived by four sisters, Mary Jo Graham and Beth Splinter of Dubuque, Iowa, Ruth Frantzen of Urbandale, Iowa and Kay Peters (John) of Phoenix, as well as one brother, Tom Birkett (Thalia), of East Lansing, Michigan.
Visitation will be at Greer Mortuary in Sedona from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., Monday, December 30. In lieu of flowers the family requests contributions to the Flagstaff Sports Foundation, c/o Danny Neal, 2699 N. Roberta Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.
Services will be held at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Sedona at 9:30 A.M., Tuesday, December 31, 2019, followed by burial at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Flagstaff.

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