An Ignatian life of service, family and prayer: SI honors Bob Drucker

By Mary Powers

After a short time in the Army and while working in San Francisco, Bob Drucker was invited to coach a basketball team at St. Cecilia School in San Francisco. A graduate of St. Anne of the Sunset and St. Ignatius College Prep (SI), Drucker had been watching his friend coach basketball at Holy Name School and thought that it might be fun to do the same. When the opportunity arose at St. Cecilia’s, he applied, went in for the interview and was hired on the spot. From there, his coaching career blossomed, ultimately leading him to teach and coach at SI for more than 40 years.

On Nov. 19, the school awarded their highest honor, the Christ the King Award, to Drucker, a 1958 alum.

Joining the faculty of SI in 1965 to teach history and physical education, Drucker began coaching the boys’ basketball team a year later, leading the team to a championship win.

“I was very fortunate,” Drucker said. “It was a blessing.”

Drucker would go on to lead the boys’ basketball program to eight league championships, two CCS titles and one state championship appearance across two decades, eventually stepping down to assist the girls’ basketball team and the golf team.

Formed in a Jesuit education

Reminiscing about his time as a student at SI, Drucker discussed a simpler time.

“It was a good experience there,” he said. “It was one of the reasons why I wanted to go back and teach. I thought it was a good place to be, and the Jesuit values were what I was taught by my own folks, so there was a consistency there.”

While the direct call to coach did not come until later, Drucker remembers being caught up in the love of the game of basketball early on.

“It actually did start when I was in high school and I was playing,” said Drucker. “I was actually drawing up plays when I was a junior in high school while sitting in class.”

He had a great role model in then-coach and history teacher Rene Herrerias who was a St. Ignatius graduate himself. Herrerias, who is now 95 and with whom Drucker still stays in touch, led the team to four state titles.

Also at the time, the University of San Francisco’s basketball team practiced in the school’s gym, providing Drucker and the high school players with exciting afternoons watching Bill Russell and K.C. Jones.

Molding the next generation

His favorite part of coming back to St. Ignatius was teaching with fellow alumni.

“It was fun,” Drucker said. “There were three other lay teachers who were hired that year, including Chuck Murphy and Leo La Rocca. We had known each other a little bit prior to starting, and so there was already a basic friendship there. We just got along great. We were young and enthusiastic.”

With the familiar setting and good mentors at the time, including Jesuit Father Harry Carlin, SI president who was a graduate himself, Drucker said it was an easy transition in the midst of learning the teaching profession.

“We were not so far away from being those rebellious teenagers that we were going to face,” said Drucker with a smile.

Over the next 42 years, Drucker would go on to impact the lives of thousands of students, parents and alumni, as a teacher, coach and counselor.

“My first love has always been teaching,” said Drucker. “I wanted my students to be the best they could be and use their Ignatian principles to guide them.”

The SI Alumni Association shared the following about Drucker in its award proclamation: “He followed the advice of one USF professor who likened the teaching of history to building a scaffold so that students know where they stand in the sweep and scope of the story of the country and can see how the literature of the age sheds light on the history. For Bob, too, teaching history meant imparting values of integrity, freedom and responsibility.”

Drucker’s biggest lessons in teaching and coaching came from the students themselves.

“I learned a lot from kids handling adversity,” he said. “When things were difficult and you would talk with them, you’d see the struggles they were going through. Their determination allowed them to find some level of success when confronting difficult situations. It reinforced for us the need to be patient with what they were trying to do and the way in which they did it.”

Family is also an important part of Drucker’s life. He met and married his wife Kathy soon after joining the SI faculty. Bob and Kathy celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary the same day as the Christ the King Award ceremony, surrounded by their children — Katie, Molly, Joe and Chrissy, their children’s spouses and 12 grandchildren. The SI tradition continues in their family with their daughter Katie Drucker Kohmann working there and many of their grandchildren also attending the school.

Drucker’s advice for teachers and coaches is to be a good role model by embodying the integrity of the institution you represent. 

Mary Powers is the assistant director of communications and media relations for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.