John Joseph Havlicek, loving husband, father and grandfather, passed away peacefully with family by his side on April 25, 2019, at the age of 79 in Jupiter, FL, from complications of Parkinson’s Disease.
On April 8, 1940, John was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, to Frank and Mandy (Turkal) Havlicek.
John and his sisters Rose and Marilyn, and brother Fred, grew up helping their parents operate the Havlicek General Store. He was a three-sport athlete at Bridgeport High School playing football, basketball and baseball, and in 1958 earned All-State Honors in all three sports. He shared an early passion for athletics with his best boyhood friend, Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Phil Niekro. John attended The Ohio State University and played both baseball and basketball. He shared the court with lifelong friend Bobby Knight and great teammate Jerry Lucas from 1958-62. The Buckeyes won the 1960 National Championship, and in 1962 John earned All-American Honors. After graduating with a degree in Education from Ohio State, John was drafted by both the Boston Celtics (NBA) and the Cleveland Browns (NFL). John was released by the Browns, opening the door for him to pursue basketball in Boston. John was drafted by the Celtics in 1962 as the 7th pick overall. In his rookie year, under the leadership of Coach Red Auerbach, John earned NBA All-Rookie Team Honors. “Havlicek Stole the Ball” on April 15, 1965, when he deflected an inbounds pass in the Eastern Division Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers to secure the win. Legendary broadcaster Johnny Most called the game at the Boston Garden and immortalized this iconic play into sports history. On June 17, 1967, John married Beth Evans in Painesville, Ohio. They built a beautiful life together in the suburbs of Boston while raising two children, Christopher Evans Havlicek, and Jill Elizabeth Havlicek. John retired after 16 consecutive seasons with The Boston Celtics (1962-1978). His number 17 was retired to the Boston Garden rafters on October 13, 1978. In 1980, John was named to the NBA’s 35th Anniversary All-Time Team. In 1984, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1996, John was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He remains the Boston Celtics all-time leader in points (26,395), games played (1,270), and minutes played (46,471). He is one of two players in NBA history to score over 26,000 points, over 8,000 rebounds, and over 6,000 assists. John won eight World Championships and was a thirteen-time NBA All-Star. In his retirement, John was an avid outdoorsman. He especially enjoyed fishing the waters of Cape Cod and around the world. He was a member of several golf clubs where he built lifelong friendships while enjoying the game. He loved both traveling the world, and relaxing at home with his wife Beth. In recent years, John especially enjoyed watching their seven grandchildren compete in youth athletics. John was proud to have partnered with many charitable causes during his lifetime.
John is survived by his wife Beth, son Christopher Evans Havlicek (Kimberly), and daughter Jill Havlicek Buchanan (Brian). “Captain” will be lovingly remembered by his grandchildren Elizabeth Grace, John II, Virginia Mae Havlicek, and Walker, Drew, Logan, Connor Buchanan. He is also survived by many beloved nieces, nephews and cousins, and many dear friends.
The public is welcome to attend a memorial service to be held on Friday, August 16, from 5:30-7 p.m. with service at 6 p.m. at The John J. Havlicek Gymnasium at Bridgeport High School, 55707 Industrial Drive Bridgeport, OH 43912.
Please consider donating to The John J. Havlicek Education Scholarship that will be awarded to Bridgeport High School graduates to attend college.
Wilson Funeral Home is assisting the family. To leave the family a condolence please visit www.wilsonfuneral homes.com.