OLATHE, Kan. — The family of Josh Dirks lived by faith, family and football, in that order. On Friday night, all three came together to honor him.
"He showed my kids for the last 43 days what it means to be a fighter and what it means to be committed to his family, and he tried so very hard to come home," Tiffany Dirks, Josh’s wife, told KSHB 41 News.
It's that resilience Josh taught the young football players he's coached over the years — most recently at Olathe North High School.
"He watched film on each one of his players for hours to critique their deficiencies to help them become the best that they could," Tiffany Dirks said.
She describes Josh as the ultimate family man with a passion for football.
The two met at Pittsburg State University where Josh won two championships as a starter at offensive guard and where both exchanged vows to be there for one another in sickness and in health.
"I took him to the emergency room on Friday, [Sept] 24th expecting to get antibiotics and come home," Tiffany Dirks said. "And they said we're going to keep him, and they admitted him to a regular unit. And by midnight, his oxygen levels were dropping because he had pneumonia."
Eventually, doctors put Josh on a ventilator after six weeks, his battle came to an end Thursday.
"Josh struggled, but he never gave up," Tiffany Dirks said.
It's a crushing loss to those whose lives he's impacted.
"It’s like you losing a parent, because of that tough love that you probably won't get at home when you're on that field," said Mick Davis Jr., whose son was coached by Josh.
The Olathe North Eagles honored the 39-year-old husband and father of four with a moment of silence before Friday night's game with players bearing his initials on their helmets.
"He was about making these kids better every day in the weight room over the summer. And he's on the sidelines this year, and here we are without him tonight, but tonight is about him, the rest of the season about him," said Jason Herman, principal at Olathe North High School.
In a final act of kindness, Josh's organs will be donated.
"And I told my kids, whoever receives Josh's heart is the luckiest person in the world because it's strong and it's kind and it's going make that person be able to finish their race," Tiffany Dirks said.
The family also expressed deep gratitude to the community for their continued support and generosity during this difficult time.
The family has set up a GoFundMe to assist in paying for medical expenses.