Jim E. LaRue obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Jim E. LaRue

August 11, 1925 - March 29, 2015

Obituary


"Gentleman Jim" LaRue, a truly authentic and loving father, grandfather, husband and friend, age 89, passed away 3/29/2015.

The fifth of seven children, Jim was born 8/11/1925 to Jessie B. and Fred E. LaRue in Clinton, Oklahoma where he spent most of his childhood years. Upon graduation from Clinton High School, where he was an All State football player and exceptional athlete, he joined the Navy V-12 Pilot training program. The Navy sent him to Carson Newman College where he met his future wife Betty Jean Coleman, to whom he was married for...

"Gentleman Jim" LaRue, a truly authentic and loving father, grandfather, husband and friend, age 89, passed away 3/29/2015.

The fifth of seven children, Jim was born 8/11/1925 to Jessie B. and Fred E. LaRue in Clinton, Oklahoma where he spent most of his childhood years. Upon graduation from Clinton High School, where he was an All State football player and exceptional athlete, he joined the Navy V-12 Pilot training program. The Navy sent him to Carson Newman College where he met his future wife Betty Jean Coleman, to whom he was married for 60 years. The Navy then sent Jim to Duke University where he earned his Navy Officer's Commission and lettered in football and track. As a football halfback, his run set up the winning touchdown for Duke to beat Alabama 29-26 in the 1945 Sugar Bowl. Jim was called to active duty in Japan in 1945 and served as the Officer in Charge of LST 853.

Shortly after his return from overseas in 1947 he played three more years of college football at the University of Maryland, during which time he played in two Gator Bowls. There he began his long and successful career as a football coach that took him all over the country and ultimately all over the world. He coached at University of Maryland, Naval Training Center Bainbridge, Kansas State University, University of Houston, Southern Methodist University, University of Arizona, Southern Illinois University, University of Utah, Wake Forest University and the US Coast Guard Academy.

Jim and Betty came to Tucson in 1959 with their three children where he was the head football coach at the University of Arizona through the 1966 season. In 1976 he started his professional coaching career with the Buffalo Bills. He moved in 1978 to Chicago and coached the defensive backfield of the Bears. The 1985 Chicago Bears defense was one of the best in NFL history and contributed to a Bears victory in Super Bowl XX. He retired from NFL coaching in 1993 and returned to Tucson.

Although Jim enjoyed woodworking, golf, gardening, travel, and just about any outdoor activity, friends and family were most important to him. His genuine sincerity, interest in others, and unwavering dedication are reflected in his belief that academics and athletics offered an opportunity to a better life. In fact, in spite of the popularity football brought to him, when asked about his profession, he was often heard describing himself as a teacher rather than a coach. Jim shaped the lives of legions of young men of diverse backgrounds who have gone on to distinguish themselves in the fields of education, medicine, coaching, politics, the ministry, business and the military. He valued character and commitment far more than any sports accolade.

He has been a decades-long member of Christ Church United Methodist of Tucson. He was preceded in death by his parents, five siblings, his wife Betty, and grandson James. He is survived by his dear friend Millie Tuckman of Tucson, AZ, his brother Bob LaRue (Joan) of Tucson, AZ, three children and their spouses, Jill LaRue (Tom Ettinger) of Cashmere, WA, Judy LaRue McCarthy (Craig McCarthy) of Tucson, AZ, Tom LaRue (GaYoung Kim) of Okinawa, Japan, five grandchildren Jesse, Stephen, Connor, Alexa, and Mike, step-grandchildren Matt and Colleen, and one great-grandchild, James.

We wish to express our gratitude to his dedicated friend and caregiver of many years, Rosie Navarro, caregivers Glori and Renee, as well as to Dr. Aguilar, Dr. Senese, Corinna, Charles and Lisa at St. Joseph's Hospital for their tender care during his last days with us. A sincere "thank you" to Dr. Alan Rogers for his care and support over many years. We thank the staffs at The Forum and The Villas for their care. Very special thanks to the lifelong devotion of Duff Rowden, and enduring friendships of Eddie Wilson, Chuck Mills, and Ron Marciniak.

In lieu of flowers, please send contributions in his name to TMC Hospice.

Services will be held April 6, 2015 1:00 PM at Christ Church United Methodist, 655 N. Craycroft Rd, to be followed by internment at 3:00 PM East Lawn Palms Mortuary, 5801 E. Grant Rd. A memorial reception and celebration of life will begin at 4:00 PM at Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way.