A who’s who of Big Bear High School coaches and administrators including Mike Clifton, Rich Benson, Don Gifford, Phil Hamilton, Al Waner and Martin Bumstead, are scheduled to speak at this Saturday’s celebration of life in honor of Coach Jack Oksnee. In nearly 20 years at Big Bear High School (from 1972 through 1991), Oksnee coached a variety of sports, including football, golf and basketball, while also teaching P.E. and drivers education and training—but is perhaps best remembered for the Oksnee strip, which he performed on special occasions, such as Bears homecoming pep assemblies, even 10 years beyond his retirement. Oksnee and wife Norma have since been living in the Palm Springs area where he passed away last Tuesday, at age 78, following a long illness. As daughter Pam remembers, “He was my father and my mentor. He was strong, confident, genuine and truly caring; he also really loved life. I always said he could have gotten into the White House if he tried.” Oksnee was also father to sons Scott and Bud (who passed away in ’91), and a grandfather to nine—though he was a driving force in the lives of many others, including BBHS Coaches Mike and Dolores Clifton. As Mike tells KBHR, “If it weren’t for Jack and Norma Oksnee, we wouldn’t be here in Big Bear; they helped us find our life and future in Big Bear in 1977. We’ve been blessed to have a close relationship with Jack, Norma and his family.” Oksnee had requested that a memorial be a celebration and that will be the case, come Saturday, June 27 at 4pm when, at the Big Bear High School gym, just off the campus side street the Oksnee Strip, Coach Oksnee will be remembered by family and friends; a reception will follow at a private home, located at 2820 Cedar Lane, at the end of State Lane in the Hamilton Ranch area of Erwin Lake. The family has just posted a website (JackOksnee.com) for those who wish to add a tribute to Oksnee, whom Mike Clifton describes as “a genuine, loving, caring human being. Jack Oksnee is a Bear—through and through.” In lieu of flowers, the Oksnee family asks that donations be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
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