OBITUARY

John R. Ferrara, Sr.

April 24, 1965March 31, 2019
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John R. Ferrara Sr., In the Hope of Christ Resurrection on Sunday March 31, 2019. Beloved son of the late Frank A. Sr. and the late Mary “Cissy” Ferrara (nee Hynes); loving husband of Kelly Ferrara (nee Williams); cherished father of John R. Jr. “Jack” and Lindsey Ferrara; dear brother of Cynthia (Ron) Schmitz, Julia (Derek Nappier) Ferrara, and the late Frank A. Ferrara, Jr.; treasured brother-in-law to Doug (Pam) Williams, Tom (Jillian) Sallee, Laura (John) Williamson, and Jennifer (Mike Kerber) Sallee; adored uncle, nephew, cousin, coach, and friend to many.

Funeral Mass is Saturday April 6th 10:30 a.m. at St. Gerard Majella Catholic Church, 1971 Dougherty Ferry Rd, St. Louis, MO 63122. Visitation Friday, April 5th from 2-8 PM at Hoffmeister Colonial Mortuary, 6464 Chippewa St. Private inurnment at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations in John’s name may be made to The Frozen Cup via frozencupstl.com, the St. Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame via stlamhhof.com, or Nurses for Newborns via NursesforNewborns.org.

Condolences may be offered at www.hoffmeistercolonial.com and will be printed into a book with photos for the family. Please share your stories.

  • FAMILY

  • Frank A. Ferrara, Sr., Father
  • Mary "Cissy" (nee: Hynes) Ferrara, Mother
  • Kelly (nee: Williams) Ferrara, Wife
  • John R. "Jack" Ferrara, Jr., Son
  • Lindsey Ferrara, Daughter
  • Cynthia (Ron) Schmitz, Sister
  • Julia (Derek Nappier) Ferrara, Sister
  • Frank A. Ferrara, Jr., Brother
  • Doug (Pam) Williams, Brother-in-law
  • Tom (Jillian) Sallee, Brother-in-law
  • Laura (John) Williamson, Sister-in-law
  • Jennifer (Mike Kerber) Sallee, Sister-in-law
  • Adored uncle, nephew, cousin, coach, and friend to many.

Services

  • Visitation Friday, April 5, 2019
  • Funeral Mass Saturday, April 6, 2019
REMEMBERING

John R. Ferrara, Sr.

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Eric LaBarge

April 8, 2019

John was my hockey coach for years when I was young. Anytime I think of 'coach' from when I played, John is who always comes to mind. He taught us all a lot of great things and I don't know exactly what to say about what he taught me but I'll share what I'll always remember. As I got older, coaches got harder and harder on their players & John wasn't an exception. I'd had a few rough coaches before and we never got along and my love of the game was never really in the forefront of my mind when I was dealing with any of them. John always told us he was willing to listen if we needed to talk to him about anything so after one grueling practice I took him up on it. Getting yelled at constantly never motivated me and had begun to sap my enjoyment of the sport significantly and I was about ready to hang up my skates because I'd rather not spend my time getting hollered at, the entire experience was too negative for me. John was surprised and concerned at how much that had begun to effect my love of the game. He told me the way it usually worked was that the coaches would try (often succeeding) to make the players mad in an effort to motivate them to work harder. For whatever reason this was what I needed to hear, I had always thought I just had coaches that were... jerks or (fill in some hockey language here). I continued to play and love playing for years after John was my coach, which I don't think I would have had he not been my coach. John taught me how to let others get the best out of me, how to give my best even under lousy situations, and a lot more that I still don't know how to put into words but I hope this anecdote conveyed some of it. I will never forget my time with John, what he taught me, or who he was to me.

God bless, God speed, God knows we all miss you, and we will always remember you, Coach.

Janice Stuckmeyer

April 8, 2019

I knew John the most in his younger days when he went to college with my son Lester and all the way up until the time he married Kelly and started his own family. The parties, playing volleyball in the back yard and never knowing what the guys might get into next. John will always have a special place in my heart and I am so thankful for all the wonderful memories I have of him. Hearing the testimonies at John’s funeral confirmed the wonderful man I knew he would become.

Kathy Marks

April 7, 2019

Even though it's been a week since John passed, I am still having a hard time accepting that this incredible guy is no longer with us. Uncle Russ and I have so many wonderful memories of him at the cottage. The end of July is going to be so different.

The main thing that stands out for me is his amazing kind and gentle smile. Every time I would get concerned about something from; " What should be fixed at the cottage , to 'What should we have for dinner"? . John would just put his arm around me , smile that wonderful smile, and say, "It's okay, Aunt Kath ". And, of course, it was.

I also remember making my very special spaghetti dinner for your family when y'all arrived at the cottage one summer. After the pasta was done, I had started to rinse it in the sink. Both John AND Jack descended on me and rescued the pasta before I "ruined" it by running it under water. Trust me, I have never rinsed pasta again!

Memories of John enjoying himself at our Williams, Marks, Ferrara family reunion: sitting on the porch at the cottage talking endlessly; watching him join the beach crowd and light up a cigar ; to blowing up the air mattress in the cottage living room before bed. (It's so sad you won't be using the new queen bed this summer.) So many memories, and yet way too few.

LYTTMAB, John. Godspeed
Aunt Kath

Nikki Zavradinos

April 6, 2019

I met John at Blues Fantasy Camp quite a few years ago. Our ladies team was lucky enough to get John to skate with us one of the first games. I’ll never forget talking with Him on the bench and asking him if was Frank Ferrara’s son. I had met Frank quite a few times through friends and the positive impact he had on everyone around him was magical. John had the same impact, as evident by how much fun we were had at Camp.

I appreciate the passion John has for people and the love of hockey. I value the time I spent with John on the ice so much and know he took the torch from his father will continue to have lasting impacts on the hockey community.

My sympathies to the Ferrara family.

Missy Blackwell

April 5, 2019

John continues to be one of the most influential people in my life that I share with my husband, Wade Blackwell. We cannot count the number of blessings we've received over the years by being friends with him and the Ferrara family. But the high notes are ones that come readily to mind. If it weren't for John, I would never have met my husband, Wade. Wade is my best friend, my partner in life, and the father of my child - all blessings in which would never have come to pass without the persistence and all-knowing wisdom of John. When Wade and I were too stubborn and bullheaded to realize what was best for us, John was our North Star that brought us back safely to shore. When we decided to seal the deal and get married, John was there to sanctify our marriage and bless us with his years of advice as a happily married man and father of two gorgeous and spirited children. When we struggled to get pregnant, John was there to encourage us to persevere, knowing that faith and compassion would ensure our story ended with a miracle. And low and behold, we welcomed our son Baron Blackwell into the world in 2018. John and the Ferrara family were able to kiss the face of the child that only existed because of our bond with John. Although my son will not know our gentle giant the way we were blessed to, it is my mission in life to raise him with the undeniable truth that his guardian angel is looking over him. We love you John R. Ferrara, Sr.
-Wade, Missy, & Baron Blackwell

Liz Guilmet

April 5, 2019

I skated for the Lyons for the first time at an open practice two years ago. Coach John pulled me aside and made me a pitch to join the team. It was not what I was looking for, but I trusted him. He said stay and help us build. He new what I wanted; teammates, support, community and people to drink beer with, even if I didn't know what I wanted. He would always make drills harder for me so I felt challenged and even let me coach. One time I drank too much before a Saturday practice and Coach John made me skate suicides until I sobered up. I did not drink before practice again after that (ish).

He gave everything and was selfless. Coach John is the reason why there is women’s hockey in STL. He would bring in professional skating coaches and NHL players to help us learn to skate and stickhandle. It was way overkill for most of us in our 30s 40s and 50s, but because he valued us, we felt worthy and important. He told us he preferred coaching the women’s team because we would actually listen. He would travel hours to be on the bench during our games in Chicago. We were the only team who had a coach, and he would be invested in us, each and every shift like we were pros and the stands were full of scouts recruiting for the women’s USA team. He liked that I played like a big defensemen, but he always kept me in check. At a tournament in Chicago he grabbed me by the back of the jersey and said “Lizzy when its time to turn you loose I will be the first to tell you, but we are playing against 45 year old moms. Take it down a notch.”

I spent 4 years in St. Louis playing for terrible mens team, thinking that I wanted a competitive hockey experience. I was really looking for a home. I found a family with the girls and with Coach John. I met him too late and he left us too soon. I miss him very much.

Patti Smith

April 4, 2019

John was always so willing to help co-workers(& their family) both at AAA & when I worked with him at Alternatives. He always gave you his full attention whether you were a co-worker, client or potential client; unless it interfered with hockey. He always talked about his wife, Kelly , & their kids & was so proud of all of them. Once you met John, you were his friend forever. We all lost a great person, but know his legacy will live on.

CHARLES FERRARA

April 4, 2019

John will certainly be missed! I'll always have memories to remind me of his strong character, will, friendship, respect, and love, especially to his family and his many friends. May you R.I.P. I was honored to have shared the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Anointing with you. Your cousin, Father Charlie

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

I’ve been asked to read a eulogy today, to honor the passing of my friend John Ferrara. It is my honor to do so. I’ve known John since our youngest children were friends in elementary school. More recently, John reconnected with his Catholic faith, and he would join my husband and I right over there (pointing) for the early morning Sunday Mass. I used to tease Kelly that I was going to create quite a stir in this room…. When we would do the sign of peace I would hug and kiss my husband Tim, then hug and kiss John.

Based on that grounding of shared faith, I’ve been asked to do the eulogy, yet most of this was authored by his wife Kelly. Words are her tools, and when she asked me to speak, I asked her to write. So here we are. I’m reading her words to you.

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Family and Friends,

If you knew John well at all, you know he had a coach’s heart and a coach’s mind. Whether he was yelling at the television, playing with the Blues Alumni and Grey Team, coaching the St. Louis Lyons Women’s Ice Hockey team, coaching the Parkway South High School team, the Affton Americans, the Kirkwood Pioneers, the Webster Groves Skatesmen, or any of the St. Gerard Majella baseball, basketball, or soccer teams he coached across the years, he was a coach.

While we are talking about John’s coaching legacy, I hope you’ll all indulge me here for a few minutes…just so we can all witness the impact he had.

If Coach Ferrara coached you on a boys or girls St. Gerard team of any sport, please stand up and please remain standing.

If Coach Ferrara coached you back in the day in hockey as a Pee Wee at Affton or Kirkwood, in Learn to Skate at Kirkwood, or at Webster Groves High School, please stand up and please remain standing.

If Coach Ferrara coached you for Parkway South Hockey, please stand up and please remain standing.

If Coach Ferrara coached you on the St. Louis Lyons Women’s Hockey team, please stand up and please remain standing.

If you ever played on a hockey team with or against John, or coached with John, please stand up and please remain standing.

Now --- look around. …. Take a minute and look around.

Friends, this is what a legacy looks like. Hockey was his passion and his love.
He was never paid to play but he played for more than 45 years.
He was barely paid to coach. Yet look around.
Every volunteer hour he spent with these players and their families…with each teammate and competitor…. Directing, coaxing, cajoling and maybe possibly yelling a time or two… Every one of those hours meant something to Coach Ferrara.

You may all be seated.

Coach Ferrara, Coach John, John, Jay, Uncle John, Dad….no matter what you called him, it was obvious to all who knew him, he gave freely of his time. He gave freely of his talents. He gave freely of his treasure. He served his community in ways that will live on for years to come.

His service wasn’t limited to hockey. He served on the board of the St. Louis Young Ambassadors, which is how he first cajoled Kelly into going out with him and meeting his friends. He served on the board of AmeriCorps St. Louis for years. He supported Kelly in her board work with Nurses for Newborns. He was one of the founders of the St. Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame, honoring and recognizing those who served amateur hockey in this great hockey town. He also served on the board of The Frozen Cup, and helped the Steinberg Winter Classic raise money for those battling cancer.

Corralling words to represent almost 54 years of friendship, love, support, and dedication to family is hard to do, even for Kelly. So here is the advice from John’s wife to each of you here today.

1. He had many gifts and he shared those with every one of us. He himself was a gift to every one of us. He is your gift.
2. To Jack and Lindsey, he was and always will be your Dad. He loved you fiercely and will forever be proud of you. The smart, safe, and healthy choices you’ve learned to make your entire lives will continue to serve you well. Your path is bright, and you are not alone. This entire gathering of humans is behind you (literally and figuratively) as you step into this new world. He is yours.
3. To his sisters, he was and always will be your brother. At Frankie’s funeral we talked about what it takes to be a Ferrara. You have all played a key part in living out that Ferrara legacy of family ties and friendship. He is yours.
4. To his players, he was and always will be your coach. Learn his lessons about hockey, but also about drive, and motivation, and perseverance. Also learn what it means to volunteer and serve your community with your particular gifts, as he did with his. He is yours.
5. To his teammates and friends, he always did and always will have your backs. You were his guys. He was your guy. He built friendships that will continue to outlive him. As you embrace Kelly, Jack, Lindsey, Cynthia and Julia as your friends, you maintain your friendship with John. He is yours.
6. To his professional colleagues, he was always the guy in the trenches with you trying to get that last quote just right, trying to get one more underwriter to call him back, and trying to help you all as you helped him. He is yours.
7. To his nieces and nephews, four of whom are here in church with us today, he will always be Uncle John. Babies were always drawn to him, and each of his nieces and nephews were under that spell at times, as he was under theirs. He is yours.
8. To his brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, mothers-in-law, fathers-in law, aunts, uncles, and cousins, he will always be your family. Think of him fondly, talk about him when he crosses your mind, celebrate with each other and with others what his legacy was and what he meant to you. He is yours.
9. And while this last one is a little awkward since Kelly is writing this for me to read, but it is directed to Kelly, he will always be yours. More than 24 years ago, you knew within the first week of meeting John that he was the man you were going to marry. He is still yours.

When each of us leaves here today, we are taking a bit of John’s (Jay’s) spirit with us. It is yours. And it is what you do with it from here, that matters.
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