September 4, 2002 - Main Line Times: Obituary for Bolivia RPCV Frank McAlpin

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Bolivia: Peace Corps Bolivia : The Peace Corps in Bolivia: September 4, 2002 - Main Line Times: Obituary for Bolivia RPCV Frank McAlpin

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Obituary for Bolivia RPCV Frank McAlpin

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Episcopal cross-country squad misses coach McAlpin*

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Episcopal cross-country squad misses coach McAlpin

By: David Block, Main Line Times September 04, 2002

While many high school teams are adjusting to graduation losses from last spring, the Episcopal Academy boys' cross-country team is coping with a much greater loss - their coach for the last 15 years, Frank McAlpin, died of an unexpected attack of lung cancer last May at the age of 55.

"Frank never smoked, he didn't eat red meat, he exercised regularly," said his 22-year life partner Joan Davidson. "The doctor said that except for the tumor on his lung, he was in perfect health."

When McAlpin graduated from St. Joseph's University in 1968, he joined the Peace Corps, where he was stationed in Bolivia.

"Frank was inspired by President Kennedy," said Davidson.

Davidson said that in Bolivia, McAlpin aided the farmers. She added that he loved the Spanish language, its culture and literature.

After returning to the Philadelphia area in the early 1970s, McAlpin taught Spanish at West Catholic High School, then Malvern Prep and finally EA, where he taught middle school youths.

"Frank loved the kids he taught," said Davidson.

EA cross-country captain Nick Brown said that McAlpin was more than just a coach: "He was a great teacher and a friend. He cared about everyone.

"A few years ago when my parents separated, I was going through a rough time. Mr. McAlpin was there for me. He helped me get through that bad time."

Bown elaborated that on the days his team competed, McAlpin would take time out of his busy day to come to the high school to encourage his runners.

The current boys' cross-country coach at Episcopal, assistant athletic director Jim Farrell, said, "Frank loved to sit and talk with the kids about running. He put his heart and soul in it. He challenged his teams to do the best they could. I hope I can motivate them to run at their best."

EA athletic director Gina Buggy said, "He put the kids first, athletics second. He loved his kids. We will miss him.He had the ability to connect with kids on individual levels."

EA girls' cross-country coach Tim Gavin said, "He taught me a lot about coaching. Before practices, we'd see each other and we'd discuss what we'd do that day. It's going to be hard not seeing him anymore."

Penn Charter cross-country coach Harvey Rentschlenr said, "He was a wonderful man, and a very successful coach. I had a tremendous amount of respect for him. He always had a smile on his face.

He was a real gentleman. The last time I saw Frank, was last November at the coach's meeting. We shook hands and I said, 'I'll see you next fall.' Now, that's not going to happen.

"One thing I'll really miss about him was the night before his team raced Haverford School, Frank always phoned me to unload his team's strategy. I'd never give him strategies and he never tried to pump me for any. He was just looking for a sympathetic ear. I'm going to miss his phone calls."

Haverford School cross-country coach Sam Heed said that his team's rivalry with EA was quite intense: "If we were having a bad season, it didn't matter to some of the kids if they beat EA. If they beat EA, then it was a great year."

Heed said that he and his team had enormous respect for McAlpin: "When we found out that he was dying, we wrote him a card."

Heed said that last year's captain, Chris Nordsiek, went to EA to deliver the card, but ran into some of the EA cross-country runners. Nordsiek and the EA runners visited McAlpin in the hospital.

"It meant so much to Frank that his runners and that runner from Haverford visited him in the hospital," said Davidson.

Davidson said that up until the end, Frank McAlpin was always teaching: "In the hospital, he'd pretend to have a piece of chalk and pretend that he was writing on the chalk board. He talked about preparing his syllabuses for September."

On all the cards the EA students would give him, they would write Episcopal's slogan of last season - 'Never give up! Never ever give up! Die trying!'

Davidson said, "Frank died trying."

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