James Edward Mentis, age 86, passed away December 24, 2012 in the Missouri Veterans Home in Mount Vernon, Missouri.
Jim was born December 25, 1925 in Mount Vernon, Ohio, the son of John and Martha Mentis. Jim loved sports his entire life. In high school, he was an outstanding athlete, lettering in football, basketball and baseball.
Jim answered his country's call during the Second World War, proudly serving with the United States Navy in the Southeast and Western Pacific with the amphibious fleet.
After his honorable discharge in 1946, he attended Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State University). While there, he lettered in football all four years. He also received the All MIAA Conference Honor and the SMS Scholastic Trophy for Athletes.
While at Southwest Missouri State, Jim met and fell in love with Nancy Timmons, the woman he was to marry and raise a family. In 1950, Jim and Nancy married in Monett, Missouri.
After graduating from SMS, Jim began his coaching career. He started at Carthage High School, coaching football, basketball and track from 1950-1953.
In 1954, Jim came to Central High School in Springfield, Missouri. He taught physical education and coached football and track. During this period of time, he earned his Master of Education from the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Jim then taught at Pershing Junior High, in Springfield, Missouri, from 1959-1960. He also performed post-graduate work at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, during this time.
Jim joined the athletic staff at Southwest Missouri State in 1961. He coached football and started the wrestling and soccer programs. He served as Head Football Coach from 1965-1968, when he returned to full-time teaching.
While at Southwest Missouri State, Jim helped develop and implement the degree program in Recreation and Leisure Studies. He retired from university teaching in 1988. He taught for 38 years, 26 of them at Southwest Missouri State. He was also a Southwest Missouri football official for 35 years.
Jim was inducted into the Missouri State University Athletic Hall of Fame, Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame and Southwest Missouri Officials Hall of Fame. He was also honored with the Southwest Missouri State Alumni Appreciation Award and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce Coach of the Year.
Jim's service was not limited to Southwest Missouri State. He served on the Springfield Park Board in many capacities and served his community in many other organizations during, and after, his career as an educator and coach.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and sister-in-law, Doris Mentis. Survivors include his wife, Nancy; brother Paul Mentis; son David Mentis and wife Doyla; daughter Linda Hills and husband Joe; grandson Ben Nichols; granddaughter Dava Mentis; great-grandson Layton Elliott and many other family members and friends.
Jim loved his family, friends, sports, teaching and coaching. He cared for people his entire life. He touched and inspired many lives during his lifetime.
A private family service will be held at a later date. The family thanks the doctors, nurses and staff of the Missouri Veterans Home who provided kind, excellent care.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to Missouri State University Foundation, Jim Mentis Scholarship, Meyer Alumni Center, 300 South Jefferson, Springfield, Missouri, 65806 or to the
. Online condolences may be made at www.gormanscharpf.com
Published in the News-Leader on Dec. 28, 2012