Tank Corner | Courtesy of OPRF

Monday was a sad day at Oak Park and River Forest High School. That’s when students and staff learned of the death of longtime campus safety officer Jean “Tank” Corner. Corner died Sunday evening from complications from pneumonia. He had been on leave from his job recovering from back surgery.

“This news comes as a terrible shock to all of us,” OPRF Principal Lynda Parker wrote in an email sent to students and families Monday morning. “Tank has been a fixture at OPRFHS for many, many years, and we feel this tragic loss throughout our entire Huskie family. 

“Many of our students grew close to Tank during daily hallway interactions with him as well as his coaching activities. He was the first staff person many of our student athletes saw every day as he kept watch over the entrance for before-school practices.”

Corner had worked at OPRF for 28 years and graduated from the school in 1989. He was a star football running back at OPRF in the late 1980’s and went on to play college football at North Iowa Area Community College before transferring to the University of Northern Iowa. In his two years at the University of Northern Iowa Corner rushed 1,766 yards and had 11 touchdowns. He gained 254 yards in a 1992 game against Southern Illinois.

He came back to work at OPRF and became an important part of the fabric at OPRF.

“Our building is grieving,” said Karin Sullivan, the executive director of communications at OPRF.

Teachers were shocked when they learned that Corner had died. Everyone seemed to know him and to like him.

Jim Geovanes has been a physical education teacher for 23 years at OPRF and knew Corner well.

“He was just such a good man,” Geovanes said. “He was very playful,” Geovanes said. “His personality was always messing with people, aways goofing on people. It just came to be expected. He was just a gentle giant. He was just a super great dude.”

Another teacher said Corner was a beloved figure at the school.

“He was a community builder; he was there for everybody, he was kind,” said the teacher who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t cleared to talk to the media.

Although his given name was Jean he had long gone by Tank. The name fit him. He was built like a tank, short but wide and powerful. He power lifted until last year.

This past fall he was the head coach for OPRF’s first girls flag football team.

“He was very passionate about the game in football,” said OPRF senior Kelly Regan who played on the flag football team last fall. “He was very focused but also passionate. When we did good, he would cheer us up. When we were down, he would make sure we just focused on the next play. He was a very good coach and very detail orientated as well.”

Corner was a familiar and comforting presence at OPRF. Powerfully built so no one would mess with him but he also was gregarious and friendly and put people at ease. He was a reassuring presence on the third floor landing during the school day or at the main entrance at the end of the school day. He loved interacting with students.

“He was a teddy bear,” said the teacher who asked not to be identified. “He had cartoonish muscles that demonstrated security and safety yet he was the first person to welcome people and shuffle them to where they had to be.”

He seemed to know everyone at the school.

“He knew everything about what was going on at the school.” Regan said. “I saw him almost every day.”

Corner developed a small business, called Fitness II Perfection, selling athletic apparel, mostly shirts with inspirational sayings such as Work Hard No Excuses, Puttin in work! and Dominate.

Counselors were available for students Monday in the school’s Little Theater. Some students gathered there to talk about Corner and write notes to his family.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

Funeral services for Tank Corner

Funeral services for Jean “Tank” Corner have now been announced.

Visitation will be Friday, May 5 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Wallace Funeral Home, 2020 W. Roosevelt Rd., Broadview.

The funeral service will be Saturday, May 6. A wake will be held at 9:30 a.m. and the service will be at 11 a.m. at the Southside Worship Center, 7724 S. Racine Ave., Chicago.

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