Fred Janke
No. 66     Michigan Wolverines
Fred Janke, 1938
Date of birth: April 28, 1917(1917-04-28)
Date of death: January 24, 2009(2009-01-24) (aged 91)
Place of death: Jackson, Michigan
Career information
Position(s): Tackle/Fullback
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
College: Michigan
High school: Jackson High School (Jackson, Michigan)
 As player:
1936–1938 Michigan
Career highlights and awards

Captain, 1938 Michigan football team
Mayor, Jackson, Michigan, 1976–1979

Fred C. Janke (pronounced yonkee) (April 28, 1917 – January 24, 2009) was an American football player, business executive and politician. He played football for the University of Michigan from 1936 to 1938 and was the captain of the 1938 Michigan Wolverines football team under first-year head coach Fritz Crisler. He later became the president and chairman of the board of Hancock Industries. He also served as the mayor his hometown, Jackson, Michigan, in the 1970s.

Early yearsEdit

Janke as born in Jackson, Michigan in 1917. He played football at Jackson High School, and was selected as an all-state tackle in 1933 and 1934.[1]

University of MichiganEdit

In 1935, Janke enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he studied geological engineering.[1] He played at the tackle position for the Michigan Wolverines football team from 1936 to 1938. At the start of the 1937 season, Michigan head coach Harry Kipke moved Janke from the tackle position to fullback,[2] but Janke returned to the tackle position by early October 1937.[3] Despite injuries that resulted in his missing parts of the 1936,[4] 1937,[5] and 1938 seasons,[6][7] Janke was chosen as the captain of the 1938 Michigan Wolverines football team. He was captain of the first Michigan football team coached by Fritz Crisler. As Janke played through his injuries, Crisler called him "the ideal team leader."[8] Writing for the Detroit Free Press, former Michigan quarterback Tod Rockwell credited Janke and Tom Harmon with creating a winning team under new line coach "Biggie" Munn. Rockwell wrote, "Janke belleves that no job on the team is as important as his. He is determined to be the best football player on the squad. He is fully cognizant of the responsibilities of a captain. Janke is entitled to full credit for his part in adding to the momentum of that football pendulum directed by Munn."[9]

Later yearsEdit

After graduating from Michigan in 1939, Janke taught at Jackson High School and served as an assistant coach there. He also coached football at St. John High School in Jackson.[1] Janke enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was stationed in the Philippines.[1]

After the war, Janke returned to coaching at St. John's High School in Jackson. He later took a job at Macklin Grinding Wheels. He would up his careers at Hancock Industries (later ITT Hancock Industries), where he became president and chairman of the board.[1]

He served as the mayor of Jackson, Michigan from 1976 to 1979. He died in January 2009 at age 91.[1][10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Sara Scott (2009-01-27). "Fred Janke, former Jackson mayor and University of Michigan football player, dies at age 91". Jackson Citizen Patriot. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  2. Henry McCormick (1937-09-21). "No Foolin' Now". Wisconsin State Journal.("This year Coach Harry Kipke has pulled Fred Janke out of a tackle post and moved him into the backfield as fullback.")
  3. "JANKE OF MICHIGAN RETURNS TO TACKLE; Nickerson Likely Fullback for Northwestern Game". The New York Times. 1937-10-07.
  4. "MICHIGAN HAS BUSY DAY; Emphasis Is Placed on Passing -- Janke, Tackle, Out With Injury". The New York Times. 1936-10-20.
  5. "WILDCATS HEAR DISTURBING NEWS FROM ANN ARBOR: Michigan's Trosko, Renda Promise Trouble". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1937-10-97.,+1937&author=&pub=Chicago+Tribune&desc=WILDCATS+HEAR+DISTURBING+NEWS+FROM+ANN+ARBOR&pqatl=google.("A knee injury and an arm infection had Fred Janke on the sidelines today.")
  6. "Janke Is Hurt; May Not Play in N. U. Game". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1938-11-09.,+1938&author=&pub=Chicago+Tribune&desc=Janke+Is+Hurt;+May+Not+Play+in+N.+U.+Game&pqatl=google.("Michigan football hopes hung to a considerable extent tonight on the extent of an injury received by Capt. Fred Janke in practice today. His left ankle was twisted in a defensive line scrimmage.")
  7. "CAPT. JANKE WILL PLAY SATURDAY: Ankle Injury Sufficiently Recovered to Permit Mich. Leader in Game". Marshall Evening Chronicle. 1938-11-10.("Mich. Captain Fred Janke threw away his cane today and joined the Michigan football squad for its final full length workout before Saturday's game with Northwestern. His return to the squad following an ankle injury in the Penn game last week served to boost both the stock and the morale of the Wolverines.")
  8. "Janke Hurts His Ankle Again But Will Play Cats". Ironwood Daily Globe. 1938-11-11.
  9. John Whitaker (1938-10-13). "Speculating in Sports (quoting from Tod Rockwell column in Detroit Free Press)". Hammond Times.
  10. "1938 Michigan football captain Fred Janke Sr. dies". Holland Sentinel (AP story). 2009-01-28. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
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