His name was Vernon Teichroew, but they called him "Mr. Roosevelt."
Teichroew spent most of his life helping others. And few things made him happier than helping out at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. All five of his children went to Roosevelt, and long after they graduated, he remained — as coach, booster and constant, cheerful presence — always there and now sorely missed.
"You can look all over this Earth and you'll never find a guy like Vern," said Al Frost, Roosevelt's retired athletic director and one of many missing Teichroew, who died April 25 at age 69.
A Vietnam veteran and accountant, Teichroew devoted his free time to his community. He coached his kids' teams and helped organize a Junior Babe Ruth league in south Minneapolis. As his children — Bradley, Rodney, William, Jennifer and Michele — headed off to high school, he followed.
"He liked to share. He liked to work with the kids," said Kathleen Teichroew, his wife of 45 years. "He liked people. He liked to volunteer his time."
And volunteer he did. Over the years, Teichroew helped raise thousands of dollars for Roosevelt. He was president of its booster club, he was its soccer coach, baseball coach and later one of its baseball umpires.
He and Kathy spent so much time manning the concession booth at games that the school renamed the concession stand in his honor.
"He was Mr. Roosevelt," Frost said. "He did everything around that school."
He remembers the knock at his door that introduced him to the man who would become his "right-hand man."
"My name is Vern," Teichroew introduced himself. "I'm president of the booster club and I'm here to help. Anything you need done, just let me know."
Over the years, he graduated from coach to umpire. When the Special Olympics needed a track a dozen years ago, he worked tirelessly to help them use the facilities at Roosevelt. The school has hosted Special Olympics events for more than a decade, Frost said.
But the man who spent so much time helping youngsters play sports never played himself. He was raised in a conservative, religious household, his wife said, and his parents believed "church was first."
If he missed a lot of games as a boy, he more than made up for it as a father and coach. When his seven grandchildren came along, he stepped up to coach T-ball, too.
Teichroew also found time to volunteer elsewhere. A Navy veteran who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, he was active with American Legion Post 99 and the Lions Club. During the holidays, he was a Salvation Army bell ringer. Weeks before his death, he was out volunteering at the annual Minneapolis Polar Bear Plunge.
Teichroew delivered the Star Tribune for 25 years, and his lively interest in the people around him once helped save a subscriber's life.
He and Kathy were making their predawn deliveries on a muggy August morning in 2010 when they noticed that doors were ajar and the lights were on in a home on Minnehaha Avenue, and the past two days' worth of papers hadn't been picked up. They alerted paramedics, who entered the home and found an 88-year-old man collapsed on the floor. He'd been lying there for days, unable to move, after suffering a stroke.
"You hear so much negative stuff these days, and here are two people who did something right because they cared," the man's nephew told the Star Tribune at the time. The Teichroews, he said, "are lifesavers."
In addition to his wife, Teichroew is survived by sons Bradley, Rodney and William; daughters Jennifer Teichroew and Michelle Briggs; siblings Harvey, Raymond, Wilma Rupprecht and Mildred Humphrey; and seven grandchildren. Services have been held.