May 27, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Popular Crean Lutheran High School teacher and coach Dan Fink, 53, dies after illness

Crean Lutheran’s Dan Fink joined former Saints’ golf champion Tyler Guo during the athlete’s national letter of intent signing day on Nov. 18, 2018. (Photo courtesy Crean Lutheran High School)

Dan Fink, a popular teacher and coach who helped start the Crean Lutheran High School boys basketball program, then later coached the girls and boys golf programs, died on Wednesday, Feb. 26 after a brief illness, school officials have confirmed.

A memorial service for Fink will be held on Saturday, March 7 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange and the public is invited. A campus memorial for teachers, admimistrators and students, is planned Tuesday.

“Dan was an incredible member of our faculty and our sports program,” Crean Lutheran Athletic Director Eric Olson said Saturday in an interview. “He coached basketball, he also coached football for us and golf. Dan was an amazing friend, colleague and just an amazing person who always spread the love of God. He ministered to his athletes.

“Tyler Guo (former Crean Lutheran golf champion) visited him from USC and still laying there in his last moments, he (Fink) was talking with Tyler about Jesus. One of the family members gave Dan Fink a cross and he wanted Tyler to have it. Tyler didn’t want to take it, but he was pretty insistent on Tyler taking it with him that day.

“It was just a real sad moment, our prayers are with the immediate family and also the extended family. They’re all family to us. It’s been a tough week.”

Fink would have turned 54 Friday, March 6. Before his illness, he had been planning his third season as Crean Lutheran’s boys golf coach. The team competes in the spring.

“Mr. Fink died after a valiant eight-week fight with double pneumonia and sepsis which lead to organ failure,” according to a statement from Crean Lutheran.

“This Mr. Fink’s 11th year in ministry at Crean Lutheran High School. Prior to that he taught at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Orange, Christ Lutheran School in Brea, and Southeast Lutheran High School in South Gate.  At Crean Lutheran, Mr. Fink coached basketball, football and most recently was the boys and girls golf coach.”  

Fink taught theology at Crean Lutheran. 

Fink became Crean Lutheran’s first boys basketball coach, leading the Saints from 2008 to 2013. The Saints struggled for wins in the early days of the program.

“He got the program off to a good start,” Olson said.

Fink remained positive and supportive of his players. He was always cooperative with the media after games, including games when his teams lost.

From 2013 to 2016, Fink was an assistant varsity football coach and was part of the staff that led the Saints to the 2015 Academy League championship.

Fink was then the head girls golf coach from 2017 to 2019, leading the Saints to the Empire League title in 2019 and 2020. In 2019, Crean Lutheran was the CIF runner-up. The 2019 league title was the first for the school.

From 2018 to 2019, Fink was the head boys golf coach. Crean Lutheran was the Empire League champion in 2019 and Guo was the individual champion of CIF and Southern California in 2018. Guo was also named the golfer of the year in Orange County two years in a row by the Orange County Register.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts the Saints high school community loses a humble servant of the Lord, and a friend to all,” said Crean Lutheran executive director/CEO Jeffrey Beavers in a statement to OC Sports Zone on Monday.

“It was an honor to serve alongside Mr. Dan Fink for over 11 years. Mr. Fink was a faithful instructor of religion, and loved teaching the New Testament Theology.  He counted himself blessed to teach and coach at Crean Lutheran High School, a community he dearly loved and served with his whole heart. Mr. Fink coached boys basketball in the early days of the school, football, boys golf, and started the girls golf program.  What made Mr. Fink special was his humble, servant attitude. He was a very lovable person who loved the students he taught and coached, and was adored by faculty and staff. Although he will be dearly missed, we are joy-filled to know his faith in Christ has him resting in eternal peace now.  Well done good and faithful servant.” 

Crean Lutheran Principal Dan Moyer added in a statement:

“Mr. Dan Fink absolutely loved building relationships with students. He served their needs, listening to them and sharing Jesus Christ with them, and they loved him in turn. Whether he was taking part in a student-created TikTok video, participating in a pep rally, or serving as a faculty chaperone at Disneyland for a grad night celebration, he consistently displayed a willingness to get involved, to break down the walls of the classroom and to engage with students.

“Mr. Dan Fink was a husband, father, teacher, coach, colleague, peer and friend. He was also a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. The Saints community was dealt a profound blow by the unexpected death of Mr. Fink; however, Dan was confident in the truth of salvation in and through Jesus Christ, and the Saints share that confidence, understanding that while we are sadly left without his joyful presence and warm smile, he is with his Savior in heaven.”

Fink was born in Chicago in 1966. At the age of 1, his parents moved to Cody, Wyoming. He attended school and pursued his teaching degree at the University of Wyoming. 

Fink is survived by his wife, Kristin, his daughter Jenna and son Aaron along with his mother Thelma and four siblings Mike, Jeff, Cindy and Jerry.

RELATED: Dan Fink had a big impact in the classroom

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com