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“He taught us a lot about life:” Remembering beloved Germantown football coach Phil Datka

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GERMANTOWN (WITI) -- A high school coaching legend was remembered Sunday, January 4th in Germantown. Long-time head football coach Phil Datka died last Tuesday, December 30th at the age of 69. Germantown High School held a memorial service in Datka's honor on Sunday.

"He loved people. People were his passion and the people in the community here, whether at the school, the players, coaches. He loved being around them," Datka's son Doug Datka said.

Datka coached football at Germantown High School for 42 years.

"He taught us a lot about life," Michael Henry from the class of '73 said.

There was an hour wait to get into the high school, and the parking lot was filled with vehicles Sunday.

"He was a great coach as far as being a football coach, but he was one of the few men in this world I respect to this day," Henry said.

Former players wore their game-day colors as they walked by all the triumphs Coach Datka led them to.

Meanwhile, Sean Neils is living proof of Datka's contribution off the field.

"That's what I'm going to remember. As much as he was a coach and he was stern, I was in a special ed program and when I got mainstreamed he made a big difference in connecting with my teachers to help me get to the next level," Neils said.

"Any kind of genuine words I would put together wouldn't be adequate. How do you repay a priceless gift? I guess that's the price -- not being able to," Tom Kujawa, an assistant coach under Datka said.

Germantown football may be synonymous with Phil Datka.

"I think God put him on Earth to be that guy. He had this gift. He had this gift that he wanted to share," Neils said.

Datka led Germantown to state football titles in 1988 and 2003. He retired after the 2010 season.

Datka endured 11 hours of heart surgery last month. He was able to spend time at home with his family before he passed away.