Remembering local hockey coach Jeff Lafferty

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 6:11 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Life has ended for an Osceola man who dedicated that life to the game of hockey and those who played it.

Jeff Lafferty passed away Wednesday at the age of 49.

Jeff appeared in a WNDU news story in 2010 to talk about his battle with leukemia and his difficulty finding a marrow donor match.

“This became a growing problem with me being of mixed race,” Lafferty said at the time.

Yet at the time Jeff was also coaching a women’s hockey team called the Michiana Sting.

“He fought cancer for 15 years and he never let it, he never let it beat him. He was going to beat it no matter what,” Jeff’s wife, Chris Lafferty told 16 News Now in a telephone interview. “He would get out of the hospital and he’d like, I got to be there in an hour and he would literally rush these doctors to hurry up and discharge him so he could make it to a game or he can make it to a practice.”

Jeff was the son of Jack Lafferty who was a coach who made it into the Indiana High School Hockey Hall of Fame.

In his playing days Jeff was a goalie who tended nets for the Riley High School team.

Later in life Jeff coached, he managed, he kept score, kept time, officiated, and even manned the public address system at countless games. In short he was a rink rat who did everything he could to further the interests of local hockey with the possible exception of driving the Zamboni.

“That might be the only thing I never saw him do,” said fellow hockey dad Spencer Skinner. “Jeff was dealing with a lot but he never put that in front of anyone else. He attacked everyday with the greatest joy you could ever imagine.”

On November 12th, Jeff celebrated his 26th wedding anniversary with his wife Chris.

On November 14th he tested positive for coronavirus. It was a test he needed to take to be an off ice official at Saturday’s Notre Dame Hockey game.

“I don’t necessarily think it was the culprit, it didn’t help his cause any by any means,” said Chris Lafferty. “At the end he said I can’t do it no more.”

In addition to the leukemia, Jeff suffered kidney failure in September and was on dialysis.

Jeff leaves behind a wife and three children.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with medical and funeral expenses.

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