John W. Bach

Date of Death: 
Monday, January 18, 2016

Age 91, passed peacefully on January 18, 2016 at Ada F. Addington Hospice Care Center at Rush University Health Center, embraced by his wife, Mary Sweeney Bach, and family members.
Bach, born July 10, 1924, was a proud son of Brooklyn, NY, where he was a basketball star at St. John’s Prep.
After beginning his college career at Fordham University, he enlisted in the United States Navy in 1942, and was commissioned as an ensign.
Throughout his life, he was a proud combat veteran of the Pacific campaign in World War II.
Following the war, Bach returned to complete a superlative basketball career at Fordham. After playing two years with the Boston Celtics, he returned in 1950 to his alma mater as the youngest coach in Division I.
Bach enjoyed an impressive 28 years at both Fordham and Penn State University. During his collegiate coaching career, Bach was senior member of the AAU basketball program, chairman of the National Invitational Tournament, and an assistant coach on the ill-fated 1972 United States Olympic Basketball team.
The NBA portion of Bach’s 55-plus year coaching career began in 1979, and lasted for 27 years. His NBA tour included a 1984-86 head coach posting with the Golden State Warriors and assistant coaching stints with the Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards. Without question, the apex of Bach’s NBA career occurred during the Bulls’ triumphant first “three-peat” championships (’91,’92,’93). His work as the team’s defensive guru helped solidify the Bulls’ dominance during the run.
Following his retirement in 2007, Bach became a true Chicagoan. During the balance of his life, he continued his relationship with the Chicago Bulls and the city of Chicago, volunteering as a wheelchair basketball coach at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, assisting as a basketball coach at Fenwick High School, and returning to the Bulls’ training camp in the fall of 2015. John’s retirement was also defined strongly by the loving bond developed with his devoted sister-in-law Susan Zei.
In addition to his basketball achievements, Bach was a skilled pilot and an accomplished watercolorist. He is survived by Mary Sweeney Bach, his loving wife of 20 years, and his five children: John, Eileen, Donna, Brendan, and Kieran, as well as 10 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. He was preceeded in death by his brother, Neil, and his grandson, Nicholas.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Department of Cardiology, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in honor of Neil J. Stone, MD, and Old St. Patrick’s Church.

Visitation: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2016 -
3:00am to 5:00am
Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - 6:00pm
Interment: 
private