CORONAVIRUS

Longtime teacher, coach at Iowa City Regina dies of coronavirus

Regina freshman Bobbie Jensen, 14, holds a tray while freshman Emily Pechous, 15, (left), and John DeMarco, Regina physi
Regina freshman Bobbie Jensen, 14, holds a tray while freshman Emily Pechous, 15, (left), and John DeMarco, Regina physical education instructor, serve Thanksgiving dinners Nov. 18, 1999, to local seniors at the Regina Education Center in Iowa City. (Gazette file photo)

IOWA CITY — A beloved teacher and coach at a Catholic High School in Iowa City has died of the coronavirus.

Regina High School announced the death of physical education teacher John DeMarco, 73. Alumni say DeMarco received treatment for the virus at two hospitals before his death Saturday.

The Iowa Department of Public Health announced Sunday that an “older adult” was Johnson County’s first coronavirus death.

Students and alumni say that was “Coach D,” who had been a fixture at Regina since 1981 and was known for firing up students at pep rallies. DeMarco worked until spring break last month, when schools were closed.

Regina senior Rowen Udell said DeMarco was a fun gym teacher who gave students nicknames and was “always good at making everyone smile.” He said he wished he had the chance to tell DeMarco goodbye: “I know you’ll be playing badminton with all the angels.”

DeMarco was Regina’s football coach from 1985 until 1995. Ed Wallace, a captain of DeMarco’s last team, said DeMarco was a demanding coach who preached “speed, toughness, pride.”

“He was the kind of coach that any kid would have run through a brick wall for,” Wallace said.

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A Brooklyn native, DeMarco is survived by his wife, Diane, a former University of Iowa gymnastics coach.

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