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Jack Loth, former North Babylon boys basketball coach, dies at 70

N. Babylon's Head Coach Jack Loth on the

N. Babylon's Head Coach Jack Loth on the sidelines with his team during the game against Centereach High School at North Babylon High School. February 1, 2002. Photo by Joseph D. Sullivan. Credit: Freelance/Joseph D. Sullivan

Jack Loth was a North Babylon guy, through and through.

He went to school there, graduated high school there, and later taught health and physical education there for 34 years. He also coached the boys basketball team from 1983 to 2004, and led the Bulldogs to a state Class A championship — their only state crown — in 1983.

"What new coach wins a state title his first year coaching," said current North Babylon boys coach Brendan McCaffrey, who was Loth’s assistant from 2001-04. "He joked that he should have retired after that season."

Those who knew him said Loth was always in good spirits.

"He was just so much fun. He completely lit up a room," said his daughter, Sarah, who owns First and South restaurant in Greenport. "He was the first person to lighten the mood, either with a big hug or a huge hello."

John "Jack" Phillips Loth died of cardiac arrhythmia on Sept. 18 at his home in North Babylon, Sarah said. He was 70.

Loth was born on Oct. 9, 1949, and grew up in North Babylon. He became a Town of Babylon lifeguard when he was 16, and kept that position for 50 years, his family said.

He graduated from North Babylon High School in 1967 and was a two-time All-League I selection at guard in 1966 and 1967. He helped the Bulldogs to a 15-4 record and the Suffolk playoffs in 1967.

He graduated from West Virginia University in 1971, and after taking a year off to travel in Europe, Loth started teaching at North Babylon in 1972, his family said. He owned the Nite Cap, a bar in North Babylon, from 1976-1994, Sarah added.

Many of her childhood memories centered around North Babylon High School events.

"My dad chaperoned a lot," she said. "Saturday football games, every junior prom, and if I wasn’t at my own practice, I was at his practices and almost every game."

She fondly remembers spending time around her dad’s basketball teams.

"He had team spaghetti dinners at our house a couple of times a year," she said. "We had a bunch of dudes over 6-5 eating spaghetti and meatballs. But he had a way of bringing people together and making them feel like a family."

Loth had a career record of 322-150 (.682 winning percentage). His teams qualified for the playoffs 19 times, won 12 league titles, five Suffolk crowns (1983, 1986, 1987, 1998, 1999) and two Long Island championships (1983 and 1999).

"I got a chance to grow up with him. He was my dad at school," said Barry Baker, a two-time Newsday All-Long Island First Team player under Loth, and the current boys basketball coach at Wyandanch. "He always had a joke or some kind of saying that hit you later on as you get older ... He was somebody we could go to and talk to, he’d crack a joke, and put us on the straight track."

Loth was an avid golfer, gardener and photographer, Sarah said.

He is survived by his wife, Jean, of North Babylon, daughters Sarah Phillips Loth of Greenport and Margot Phillips Loth of Long Beach, stepchildren Erin and Brian Miller of North Babylon, Kelly and Paul DellaUniversita of West Islip and Danny and Mia Walsh of West Babylon, sisters Elsa Heintz of Clearwater, Florida, and Linda Stein of Land O’Lakes, Florida, brother Paul Loth of East Meadow, and his 96-year-old mother, Elsie Loth of North Babylon. He had six grandchildren.

A memorial was held at Chapey & Sons Funeral Home in West Islip on Sept. 24, and a funeral the next day at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in West Islip.

With Andy Slawson

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