UPDATE: A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Jan. 21 at the gym/cafeteria in Federal Way High School.
Not long after Bill Harris hired Jean Licari as an assistant track and field coach at Federal Way High in the early-1990s, he realized she would exceed his expectations.
“We knew that she was an athlete, she was a runner,” he said, “but we hired her to be throws coach. She was great. She worked hard to become a skilled a coach.”
Licari, also a math teacher at Federal Way, eventually became head coach of the Eagles cross country and girls track and field teams. For more than two decades, she was involved as anyone at Federal Way, touching countless lives.
On Sunday, Licari died, losing a battle with Leiomyosarcoma, a rare malignant cancer of smooth muscle. Licari, 45, is survived by her husband Pat and two teenage daughters, Katelin and Madison.
“Her family and Federal Way High School, those were the biggest things in her life,” said Kathy Harris, who coached and taught with Licari.
Licari met Pat, now an assistant track coach at the University of Washington, when he was a student-teacher in Kathy Harris’ class.
Licari, who began teaching and coaching at the school in 1991, won’t be easily replaced.
“It’s a huge loss, not only for her family but for Federal Way High School,” boys soccer coach Jason Baumgardt said. “She was an exceptional teacher and coach. You can’t just replace that.”
Licari’s condition was discovered in the spring. She returned to work in the fall, but took a leave of absence in October.
A fund has been set up by the Federal Way High School Foundation to help support her family. For more information and to donate, visit fwhsfoundation.org.